Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures

January 26, 2018 / Catastrophic Injuries

Injuries to the spinal cord are not terribly rare or unusual; they occur at an average rate of approximately 48 per day in the U.S., or 17,500 per year. (This figure does not count those who do not survive the accident that causes the SCI.) Many types of accidents can produce spinal cord injuries (SCIs). The top cause of SCIs is vehicular crashes; often, collisions result from negligent behaviors such as DUI or distraction. If negligence on the part of others is involved in your injury situation, you may have an actionable claim for which you should consider locating an experienced, compassionate personal injury attorney.

When seeking medical information, accuracy counts; we suggest you find the information you need here. All statistics, unless noted, are from 2017.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves encased by the bony vertebrae in the spinal column. The nerves, along with our brain, make up our central nervous system that controls all our motion and sensation. A spinal cord injury generally affects the reflexes, sensory nerves, and movement (motor) capabilities below the site of the injury. The higher on the spinal cord that the injury occurs, the more widespread and severe the damage generally is.

The most common SCI is known as incomplete tetraplegia. It is one type of incomplete spinal cord injury and occurs in 40.8 percent of SCI cases. An incomplete spinal cord injury means that the injured person still retains some feeling below the injury site. An example would be someone who was struck hard in the back, with the result that sensation below the waist was lessened but not completely eradicated. Those with an incomplete SCI often recover more completely and more quickly.

A complete spinal cord injury, either complete tetraplegia or paraplegia, means the elimination of all ability to move or feel below the injury site. Complete SCIs occur in less than 30 percent of injury cases and are becoming less frequent as our research knowledge and ability to medically manage cases increase.

SCI Demographics

Did you know these facts about SCI survivors?

  • Over half of all SCIs happen to those between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • The average age of someone who survives an SCI is 42, up from 29 in the 1970s.
  • About four-fifths of SCI survivors are male.
  • Slightly more than half (51 percent) of SCI survivors were either single or had never been married at the time of their injury.
  • Falls are the most common cause of SCIs in those over 65.
  • SCI sufferers accounted for approximately 285,000 persons in 2017. In the U.S., the number of persons with SCIs runs on average from 245,000 to 353,000.

Details about SCI Injury Cases

Here are some common causes, factors, and hospital-stay details concerning SCI survivors:

  • Since 2010, vehicular crashes, the leading reason for SCIs, have accounted for 38.4 percent of all SCI cases.
  • Falls have been second, accounting for over 30.5 percent of SCIs since 2010. They are followed by gunshot wounds and other violence, which cause 13.5 percent of SCIs, and sports and recreation accidents, causing 8.9 percent of SCIs.
  • Alcohol plays a part in one-fourth of SCI cases.
  • Recovery time in the hospital is decreasing for those who survive an SCI. Stays in an acute care hospital are down to 11 days on average, and the average number of days in rehabilitation has fallen to 25. In the 1970s, these figures were 24 days and 98 days, respectively.
  • Around 3 in 10 SCI survivors need to be re-hospitalized one or more times in the year following their injury, with an average stay of 22 days. Genitourinary diseases are the most common reason for re-hospitalization, with skin diseases the second most likely cause.

SCI Costs

The costs of SCIs to the sufferers and to our society as a whole are enormous:

  • Following a high-on-the-spine tetraplegia SCI, the average expenses for the first year amount to $1.79 million, with each year after averaging around $187,443.
  • By 2013, it was estimated that SCIs cost our healthcare system about $40.5 billion per year. In 1998, those costs were $30.7 billion.
  • Approximately $71 million was spent in 2016 on needed spinal cord injury research.

If someone else’s negligence means that a loved one is left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and other costs, it only makes sense that the reckless person should bear the burden of such costs.

Serving Accident Victims in Indiana since 1982.

When you are considering hiring a car accident lawyer, you should look for an attorney who will give you competent and compassionate representation with a “client first” approach. That’s exactly what you’ll get with proven advocate attorney Mike Stephenson. His entire legal team is committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

If you think you might have a case, keep in mind that in Indiana there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. The costs of a spinal cord injury are extremely high, so don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. Call Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200 or contact us for immediate help.


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