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SCI Statistics

A spinal cord injury is a devastating event, both physically and psychologically. In addition to paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of injury, a spinal cord injury also impacts many different bodily functions including circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, nutritional health, skin, respiration, bowel and bladder elimination and sexuality.

The complexity of spinal cord injuries requires the highly specialized skills of a healthcare team trained to manage this kind of injury.

  • There are currently between 250,000 – 400,000 Americans living with a spinal cord injury. More than 13,000 additional people are injured each year.

  • Every 41 minutes another person sustains a spinal cord injury

  • The cost to maintain the health, accessibility to the community, and other direct costs associated with these chronic injuries is approximately $25,213 per person per year depending on the level of injury. This yearly charge totals $11,345,850,000, solely for direct costs related to the injury.

  • More than half of those injured are between the ages of 16-30

  • The average first year costs for the newly injured, including initial hospitalization, rehabilitation, home modifications, and durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, amounts to over $244,000 per person. This adds another $3,187,616,000 to the aggregate national bill. Thus, the total direct costs for spinal cord injury are a staggering $14,533,466,000.

  • Even modest improvements in function would cut medical costs by over two-thirds per spinal cord injured person per year

  • Indirect costs from loss of productive employment due to unemployment, reduced employment or changes in employment necessitated by level or severity of injury average $13,000 annually. Thus added to the above figures, is another astounding loss to the nation of $5,850,000,000. These costs amount to $170 every year, for every taxpayer

  • Thus, without even addressing the loss of family cohesion, social contacts, loss of other family members’ income while caring for the injured individuals, this nation is suffering a yearly economic drain of at least $ 20,383,466,000. This is more than the entire budget of the National Institutes of Health for the year 2001!

  • The nation currently invests less than 1% of the costs of spinal cord injury into research that has the potential to restore function and substantially reduce the costs

  • Spinal cord injury research benefits those with stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, traumatic brain injury and many other traumas and diseases of the central nervous system.

  • You or someone you love will benefit from this critical research

  • Paraplegia (losses of movement and sensation in the lower body) affects 42.6% of the SCI population and 56.4% are affected by quadriplegia (losses of movement and sensation in both the arms and legs).

  • Vehicular accidents cause 47.5% of these spinal cord injuries. 13.8% are the result of violence and 22.9% are the result of falls. Sports injuries account for 8.9% of these injuries.

  • More than half of the SCI population was injured between the ages of 16 and 30. 79.6% of SCI individuals are male and approximately half are married at time of injury. The majority (90%) of SCI individuals survive and live near-normal life spans.

  • A spinal cord injury is perhaps one of the most devastating injuries a person can sustain. It is considered a catastrophic event and one’s life is changed forever. Major adaptations need to be made to activities of daily living and one’s life is irrevocably changed in a way that is difficult for able persons to imagine. These injuries are particularly devastating to adolescents for whom body image is vitally important. Not only do they have to deal with the possibility of never walking again, many also lose bowel and bladder control.


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