Sports injuries have a significant potential of causing spinal damage. The authors theorized that different sports predispose athletes to varying types of injuries and severity of injuries. The authors used the National Trauma Data Bank to conduct a retrospective cohort analysis of adult patients who suffered a sports-related traumatic spinal injury (TSI), including spinal fractures and spinal cord injuries (SCIs), from 2011 to 2014. Missing data were imputed using multiple imputations.


The investigators looked at 12,031 cases of TSI, which accounted for 15% of all sports-related injuries. Cycling injuries (81%), skiing and snowboarding accidents (12%), water sports injuries (3%), and contact sports injuries (3%) were the most common mechanisms of injury in this database (3%); 9.1% of TSI patients required spinal surgery during their initial hospitalization. Compared to patients with TSI but no SCI, individuals with SCI had a longer length of stay (7.0 days; 95% CI 6.7–7.3) and a higher risk of poor discharge disposition (adjusted OR 9.69, 95% CI 8.72–10.77). One-third of patients with sports-related trauma who got discharged to rehabilitation developed TSIs. Cycling injuries were the most common cause, implying that making cycling safer could help reduce TSI.