Broken Necks In Nursing Homes: Everything You Need To Know

In 2018, an estimated 23,720 neck fractures were treated at U.S. medical emergency rooms, according to the CPSC. Besides sports-related neck injuries, a significant majority of these broken neck injuries were suffered by seniors residing in nursing homes – given that they’re most vulnerable to falls.

Broken necks can be lethal, especially when our elderly loved ones are involved. For individuals 50 years and older, even the slightest of falls can lead to frightening health damages, including unbelievably painful broken neck injuries.

This article discusses everything you need to know about neck fracture injuries in nursing homes. You’ll learn about the types of broken neck injuries, the short-term, and long-term consequences, preventive measures, treatment methods, and what to do in case of medical negligence.

Broken Necks in Nursing homes: What do we mean?

By broken necks, we’re talking about fractures of the cervical vertebrae of the spine, a potentially deadly nerve injury.

What Are Broken Necks?

A broken neck occurs when one’s neck is damaged so severely that it causes damage to the spinal cord or cervical vertebrae. The most common cause of broken neck injuries in nursing homes is a fall. 

Falls are so common in nursing facilities, that 1 in 2 residents experience a fall every year.  About 1 in 3 of those who fall will fall two or more times in a year. This is why our loved ones who reside in nursing homes are susceptible to suffering from neck fracture injuries.

The reason why spinal cord injuries are so dangerous is that they can cause severe damage to your spinal cord or vertebrae (the bones in your spine). If this happens, you may experience paralysis or even death if the injury is not treated quickly enough.

Why are Broken Necks injuries common amongst Seniors (Risk factors)?

It is estimated that 10% of all people over 65 years old experience a spinal cord injury at least once in their lifetime.

Broken necks are some of the most common injuries in seniors. The elderly are more susceptible to this type of injury compared to younger people because their bones tend to be weaker and thinner.

Why Broken Neck injuries in nursing homes are a call for concern

In 2012, nursing homes were considered the most dangerous workplaces in the United States. Now, this applies mostly to workers at the nursing centers, but if workers themselves are not safe from falls because they often have to assist patients weighing over 250 pounds, then the patients themselves are in even more danger from these scary, lethal falls. 

With falls being the number one cause of broken necks in nursing homes, the frequency of falls in these health institutions is alarming. About 10%-20% of all nursing home falls result in serious injuries and 2%-6% of these falls result in some type of fracture, particularly cervical spine injuries.

The numbers don’t lie, and they’re communicating that broken necks are an alarming situation in nursing homes, and you do have reason to be worried about your loved ones. That’s why it’s important to learn everything you can about broken neck injuries, and how they can affect the lives of your elderly loved ones.

Types of Broken Neck Injuries

There are multiple types of broken necks common amongst seniors:

  • Compression Fractures: This type of cervical fracture is caused by compression of the cervical vertebrae. It can happen when there is a sudden impact or force applied to the neck, such as falling from an elevated height or being hit by a car. Minor compression fractures occur under less severe impact conditions.
  • Hyperextension Fractures: This type of fracture is caused by hyperextending your neck beyond its normal range of motion. It can happen when you fall forward or backward with your head bent back at a 90-degree angle or higher.
  • Cervical Spine Fractures: These fractures occur at the base of the skull, in the vertebrae that make up the cervical spine (neck). Cervical fractures are often caused by car accidents, falls, contact sports, and child abuse. They may cause neck pain and numbness in the arms and hands, weakness in hand muscles, and difficulty moving your head. 
  • Thoracolumbar Spine Fractures: These cervical fractures occur at any point along the thoracolumbar spine (mid back) between your lower back and your upper buttocks. They happen when someone falls from a height onto their lower back or when they suffer from osteoporosis or other bone diseases. Thoracolumbar fractures are most common in older adults over age 65 years old.

Consequences of Broken Necks in seniors at nursing homes

Death is the most tragic consequence of a spinal cord injury. But away from the potential demise of a loved one, there are other severe immediate and long-term consequences of broken necks that are worth learning about.

Immediate Consequences

Immediate or short-term effects of a broken neck can include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Concussion
  • Paralysis or loss of sensation in certain parts of your body (paraplegia)

Long term Consequences

Here are a few long-term consequences of a broken neck:

  • Long-term effects of cervical spine injuries include:
  • Chronic neck pain, stiffness, spasms, and weakness in your back, legs, and arms
  • Chronic headaches

The severity of a broken neck will depend on several factors, including age, health history, and the severity of the neck trauma.

Prevention of broken necks injuries amongst seniors in nursing homes

The best way to prevent a neck injury for your loved ones in nursing homes is to make sure that they’re wearing the appropriate safety gear whenever they are walking around. This includes helmets for residents who are in wheelchairs or need assistance with walking around. 

It is also important for residents of these nursing homes to wear shoes with good traction on slippery surfaces.

Another way to prevent broken neck injuries is by having safety rails installed in bathrooms and near staircases so that patients and residents at nursing homes don’t fall them. 

Treatment of Broken Necks injuries

The best way to treat a broken neck is with early intervention and proper care by medical professionals. The treatment of a neck injury depends on the severity of the injury, but there are some general guidelines.

  • Immobilize the Collar or Brace: The main treatment for a broken neck is to immobilize it in a collar or brace. This helps ensure that the bones do not move and heal correctly (bone heals). The neck brace should be worn as much as possible, even during sleep.
  • Surgery: Besides the neck brace, a common treatment for broken neck injuries is surgery, which is performed to repair the vertebrae and prevent further damage to the spinal cord. If a fractured vertebra can be restored to its normal position, it is possible to reduce the cervical fracture surgically.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy is often used to help your loved ones recover from broken necks after they’ve been treated at the hospital or clinic – in addition to the neck brace. It helps regain mobility in the patient’s neck and head. The doctors will advise about when this is appropriate and how often sessions should be held.

Broken Necks and negligence in nursing homes

Broken necks are not always caused by accidental falls. Sometimes, the nurses or nursing facility is responsible for these falls.

Sometimes, nursing facilities are not built to be elderly-friendly, and sometimes nurses or other staff at these nursing homes are a bit too careless with their duties of providing quality healthcare to residents. When this happens, the already rampant falls become even more vulgar and your elderly loved ones face such huge risk.

This is medical negligence, otherwise known as medical malpractice. 

Medical malpractice here occurs when nursing homes through their staff or infrastructure fail to provide the required standard of healthcare to patients/residents at their facilities.

Can you sue for medical malpractice leading to broken neck injuries?

When negligence or medical malpractice in nursing homes results in life-threatening injuries to your loved ones, you have every right to get attorneys involved and file a malpractice lawsuit. 

Can nursing homes be held liable for ‘broken necks’ malpractice?

Nursing can be held liable for medical negligence leading to broken neck injuries. 


The nursing home is supposed to provide a serene environment with an elderly-friendly infrastructure. Stairs may be too steep –causing frequent falls, or maybe it’s the floors that are too slippery –also causing frequent falls. 

If you can prove that the fall which resulted in your loved one’s broken neck was caused by the facility’s poor construction infrastructure, then, yes, the nursing home can and will be held liable for malpractice.

How to Sue for medical malpractice on Broken Neck Injuries: First steps

Medical malpractice is a serious issue that has to be handled carefully. If you’re considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit concerning broken neck injuries, here are some of the steps you will have to take:

1. Talk to a lawyer

2. Know your rights under state law

3. Understand what constitutes broken necks in nursing homes and medical malpractice

4. Find out if your case has merit

5. Seek advice from another professional doctor or nursing facility.

7. File your claim with the court

Settlement amounts for Broken Necks malpractice cases

Just like any malpractice case, settlements for broken necks malpractice cases can be huge, so it’s worth pursuing your lawsuit if you’re convinced you can make a case.

The settlement can be $500,000 or even more if the senior individual develops bedsores from the fall that caused their neck fracture. The claimants also get compensation for future harm, pain, suffering, and medical expenses.


Prevention is the best remedy. So always perform a careful evaluation of the nursing homes before committing. But If your elderly loved one becomes a victim of broken necks in nursing homes, investigate if the facility or nursing professionals are not in any way responsible for the accident – with the help of an attorney. 

Looking for a competent and passionate attorney to help you seek justice for your medical malpractice case? We’ll help you find just the right attorney for you. At JustPoint, we connect you to some of the best malpractice attorneys in the country, in no time.

Find your attorney today, for free!

What Does a Bed Sore Look Like?

What Does a Bed Sore Look Like?

Bedsores are ulcers on areas of the skin under prolonged pressure from lying in

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Pressure Ulcers And Nursing Home Abuse

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