Each year, there are approximately 12,500 new cases of spinal cord injury in the U.S.
Why do they happen? Who are the victims? How many recover, and how many end up paralyzed?
The following sobering statistics from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center sheds more light on this. They are drawn from an analysis of spinal cord injuries occurring since 2010.
- 64% non-Hispanic White
- 23% non-Hispanic Black
- 10% Hispanic
- 2% Asian
- 1% Other
- .5% Native American
The rate of spinal injury to black Americans is very disproportionate to the percentage of the population they represent. While 23% of spinal cord injuries affect black Americans, they comprise just 12% of the total U.S. population. In addition:
- Four in every five spinal cord injuries occur in men.
- The average age of the victim is 42.
Not surprisingly, car accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injury. They account for of 38% of spinal cord injuries. Other common causes:
- Falls (30%)
- Assault (14%)
- Sports (9%)
- The average stay in the intensive care unit of a hospital following a spinal cord injury is 11 days.
- This is followed by an average of 36 days of rehabilitative care.
- About 30% of victims will be rehospitalized within a year of the injury.
- Less than 1% of victims will be completely neurologically recovered when discharged from the hospital.
One year after the injury, only 12% of spinal cord injury victims are employable. This is a testament to the severity of the emotional, physical and financial suffering spinal cord injuries cause.
- Researchers determined that the cost of treating a spinal cord injury can be upwards of $1 million in the first year alone if a person suffers full tetraplegia (paralysis of all limbs; also called quadriplegia.)
- Lifetime costs, in 2014 dollars, can approach $5 million if the tetraplegia occurs at age 25.
- Even injuries that don’t cause paralysis can cost more than $1 million to treat over the course of a lifetime.