Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Statistics You Should Know

March 18, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

Everybody has a desire to “belong,” to fit in and not feel like some kind of strange outsider. It’s only natural – humans crave acceptance. But when you’re in a wheelchair, you might sometimes feel like you’re an outsider. There’s no denying that your disability sets you apart from the rest, but you’re far from alone. There are actually as many as 370,000 people dealing with spinal cord injuries in the United States

Sometimes, looking at the raw information and data can give you better insight than some lengthy article or story. That’s why we’ve decided to present some interesting facts and statistics about spinal cord injuries.

Most spinal cord injuries are the result of accidents

Either a motor vehicle accident (38 percent of cases) or some kind of fall (30 percent) is usually to blame for a major spinal cord injury. Following close behind is gunshot wound (14 percent), sports and recreational activities (9 percent), and medical/surgical complications (5 percent).

The higher the spinal cord injury, the worse off you’ll be

Because the spinal cord houses the central nervous system, it communicates regularly with the brain. Therefore, the closer the injury is to the brain, the worse off you’ll be.

Spinal cord problems in the high-cervical area (the top four vertebrae) usually result in quadriplegia. Injuries to the mid-spine will likely leave you paralyzed below the waist, but with function from the abs up. If the lowest part of your spine is injured, you may have some bowel issues, but your legs will be high functioning. You might even be able to walk on your own.

Quadriplegic and paraplegic are nearly evenly split

If you can remember that quad- means four while para- means two, then you’ll be able to remember the difference. Quadriplegic individuals have no feeling in all four limbs. Paraplegic individuals only have paralysis of the legs. And amazingly enough, spinal cord injuries are nearly evenly split among the two. 52 percent are considered paraplegic, compared to 47 percent for quadriplegic.

Young men are most at risk

At least, according to the numbers. The average age of a person with a spinal cord injury is 31. And 56 percent of these injuries occur between the ages of 16 and 30. As for gender, men make up 82 percent of the injured spinal cord population.

If you have a job and you’re single, you’re also more at risk

Make of this what you will, but the employed seem to be struck by spinal cord injuries more than the unemployed (58 percent to 41 percent). Also, if you’re single, you’re far more at risk (51 percent of cases) than those who are married (31 percent).

It can be very expensive

And when you consider that only about half (52 percent) of spinal cord injury victims have private insurance, that’s a lot of medical bills. The average first-year expenses for a spinal cord injury are an estimated $198,000 (and that number is from 2002, so expect that it’s higher now).

What will such an injury cost you in the long run? Well, let’s say you were injured at age 25. For a paraplegic, you can expect to pay $428,000 for treatment over the course of your life. And if you’re quadriplegic? That number skyrockets to $1.35 million.

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