Facts and Figures Regarding Spinal Chord Injuries

The United States currently has a population of about 314 million people. Fifty-four out of every million of these people will suffer spinal cord injuries each year. That amounts to about 17,000 new SCIs annually. This figure represents the people who survive their spinal cord injuries. As of 2016, there were about 282,000 people with SCI in the United States.

Men are much more likely to suffer a spinal cord injury than women. About 80 percent of new cases are men and 20 percent are women. Most of these cases happen as a result of a motor vehicle crash. The second most common source of SCI is falling, such as acts of violence like gunshot wounds. Sports and recreational activities are the last most common cause of such injuries.

In the past, SCI resulted in long-term hospital stays that averaged about 98 days in the 1970s. Now, the length of stay averages about 35 days. However, most spinal cord injury victims will require extensive rehabilitative therapies that extend far beyond the time they spend in the hospital. They may also require occupational therapy to reintroduce themselves into their daily lives and become independent and self-sufficient again.

Despite the shorter stays in hospitals, therapies, medical care and in-home assistance associated with spinal cord injuries are particularly costly — so costly that they are completely unaffordable for virtually any California resident without medical insurance. Combine these costs with the fact that many people with spinal cord damage can no longer work and hold down a job, and it is clear that the costs associated with many SCIs can exceed millions of dollars. It is because of these costs that many individuals — whose SCIs were caused by another party’s negligence — choose to seek financial restitution in court.

Source: National SCI Statistical Center, “Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Facts and Figures at a Glance,” accessed July 26, 2016
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