Every forty-one minutes, someone in America sustains a traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) . Approximately eleven-thousand people in America experience a TSCI every year. Car accidents are a common cause of TSCI; however, there are a number of other causes: sports injuries, falls, and gunshot wounds. See here.

Patients treated at a Level I or II trauma center have less paralysis than those with similar injuries who are treated at a non-trauma center hospital. The most likely explanation for the better outcome is the availability of more surgeons and the greater use of spinal surgery at the trauma centers.

The designation of trauma facilities differs from state to state depending. In California, the Emergency Medical Services Authority is authorized to designate trauma centers. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) establishes guidelines for classification of hospitals and verifies whether a trauma center meets ACS’ established criteria at each level I-IV and pediatric. Key elements of a Level I trauma center include 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of care in varying specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, which are needed to adequately respond and care for various forms of trauma that a patient may suffer. Additionally, a Level I center has a program of research, is a leader in trauma education and injury prevention, and is a referral resource for communities in nearby regions.The Level II center works closely with a Level 1 center and provides comprehensive trauma care.

ACS recommends that all TSCI patients be taken to a level I or II trauma center. Those centers are listed on its website.