Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that 12,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury each year. Approximately 8 percent are suffered during a recreational activity. Spinal cord injuries occur at our nation's beaches every year, usually as the result of diving headfirst into the water or being tumbled in the waves by the tremendous force of the ocean. These injuries can result in complete or partial paralysis or even death.

Types of Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries


The head is forced back further than it can extend, fracturing the bones in the back of the neck and tearing the supporting ligaments in the front.


The head is pushed forward until the chin is forced against the chest, fracturing the bones at the front of the neck and stretching or tearing the supporting ligaments. These injuries can also damage the spinal cord.

Rotational Injury

The head and body rotate in opposite directions severely twisting the ligaments, bones and spinal cord to the point where they may rupture, fracture or sever.

Vertical Compression

The head is forced down onto the shoulders with great pressure, compressing the spinal cord and possibly fracturing bones in the neck.