Spinal Cord Injuries: Numbers You Should Know

  • February 5, 2018
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Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can start with a blow to the back, but anything that impacts or twists the spine has the potential to create an injury. While many types of accidents can cause SCIs, vehicular crashes are the most frequent reason people suffer from a spinal cord injury. Because SCIs can cause severe and costly bodily damage, we have facts and figures to share that you might want to know.

Spinal Cord Injuries Explained

Our central nervous system, which controls all our movement and sensation, is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord. The latter is a nerve bundle encased by the bony vertebrae, both of which make up the spinal column. Spinal cord injuries generally have an effect on motion, sensation, and reflexes below the injury site. Generally, the higher on the spinal cord that damage occurs, the more severe the injury is.

SCIs can be complete or incomplete. An incomplete SCI means that some sensation and movement below the injury site is still evident. Incomplete SCIs, which occur in 40.8 percent of cases, often have a faster and more widespread recovery. The most commonly occurring spinal cord injury is incomplete tetraplegia (quadriplegia). Incomplete paraplegia is the second-most commonly occurring SCI.

A complete SCI means a total lack of sensation and movement below the injury site; they happen less than 30 percent of the time. The absence of sensation and motion does not necessarily mean that nerves are permanently damaged, but it is more difficult to recover, even partially, from a complete SCI.

SCI Statistics

Survivors of spinal cord injuries tend to be young and male. But other demographic statistics are also worth noting:

  • Approximately 80 percent of all SCI sufferers are male.
  • More than 50 percent of SCI survivors are between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • Around 50 percent of SCI survivors are either unmarried or never married at the time they were injured.
  • As of 2017, an SCI survivor has an average age of 42. (In the 1970s, the average age was 29.)
  • At the one-year mark, about 13 percent of SCI survivors were working. At the 20-year mark, the number of those working was only one-third.
  • SCIs in those over the age of 65 are most often caused by falls.
  • In 2017, around 285,000 persons were suffering from an SCI.

Facts about SCI Medical Cases

Reasons for SCIs and related hospital-stay information are as follows:

  • Vehicular crashes have caused 38.4 percent of all SCIs since 2010.
  • Falls have caused 30.5 percent of all SCIs since 2010.
  • Violence, including gunshot wounds, was responsible for 13.5 percent of all SCIs.
  • Sports and recreation mishaps accounted for approximately 9 percent of SCIs.
  • In one-fourth of SCI cases, alcohol is a factor.
  • SCI recovery time in acute care hospitals averages 11 days, with an additional 25 days spent in rehab.
  • Roughly 30 percent of SCI sufferers must be re-hospitalized at least once in the first year following the injury.
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The High Costs of SCIs

SCIs are tremendously expensive, both in dollars and in human suffering:

  • About 48 SCIs per day occur on average in the United States, according to 2017 figures. That’s around 17,500 annually for those who survive the SCI-causing event.
  • During the first year following the injury, the average expenses related to an SCI can run to over one million dollars.
  • The estimated lifetime costs for a 25-year-old who has suffered a complete tetraplegia that is high on the spine (cervical vertebrae C1 through C4) can reach $4.8 million. For a 50-year-old, it’s $2.6 million.
  • As of 2013, it’s estimated that the monetary costs of spinal cord injuries to our healthcare system are around $40.5 billion per year.
  • SCIs often require relearning day-to-day skills or acquiring new ways to adapt to the injury; your vehicle and home may need costly modifications.
  • SCI sufferers can have ongoing health complications, such as bladder and bowel difficulties and chronic pain, which means a lifetime of specialized care.
  • SCI survivors have a shortened lifespan as well, depriving their family of comfort and love.

If your spinal cord injury is the result of someone else’s negligence, such as from a car crash where the other party was driving under the influence or was distracted, you may have an actionable case. If so, finding a compassionate and skilled personal injury attorney should be one of your first steps. It is only fair that the negligent party should bear the financial costs.

We’re listening. How can we help?

The aftermath of a motor vehicle crash is often life-changing for the accident victims and their family members; spinal cord injuries can take years of patience and dedication to overcome. At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we have devoted our practice to defending the rights of personal injury victims. We know how traumatic a serious car crash can be for both the injured person and for his or her family. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a vehicular accident, you may be entitled to various kinds of financial compensation, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Keep in mind, however, that there is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – for filing personal injury claims. If you have been injured in an accident, you should not delay. Contact Steve today for a free initial consultation by calling 1-410-625-4878, or use our online form.

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