Factors

The financial implications associated with living with spinal cord injury (SCI) can depend on the severity of the injury and also the age at which the injury occurs.

The figures below are taken from the free to download SCI Facts and Figures at a Glance factsheet published by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in 2015 using data gathered from 2010 to 2014.

Most common spinal cord injuries

Incomplete tetraplegia is currently the most frequent neurological category for spinal cord injury, followed by incomplete paraplegia, complete paraplegia, and complete tetraplegia.

Since 2010, the percentages of spinal cord injuries by category have been as follows:

  • Incomplete Tetraplegia: 45%
  • Incomplete Paraplegia: 21%
  • Complete Paraplegia: 20%
  • Complete Tetraplegia: 14%

Less than 1% of affected people experienced complete neurological recovery by the time they were discharged from hospital.

Average yearly costs

The average yearly expenses (health care costs and living expenses) and the estimated lifetime costs that are directly attributable to SCI vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history.

These estimates do not include any indirect costs such as losses in wages, fringe benefits, and productivity (indirect costs averaged $71,961 per year in 2014 dollars).

Severity of Injury First Year Each Subsequent Year
High Tetraplegia (C1-C4) ASIS ABC $1,064,716 $184,891
Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8) $769,351 $113,423
Paraplegia $518,904 $68,739
Incomplete motor function (any level) $347,484 $42,206

Estimated lifetime costs

Severity of Injury 25 Years Old 50 Years Old
High Tetraplegia (C1-C4) ASIS ABC $4,724,181 $2,596,329
Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8) ASIS ABC $3,451,781 $2,123,154
Paraplegia ASIS ABC $2,310,104 $1,516,052
Incomplete motor function (any level) ASIS D $1,578,274 $1,113,990

More SCI Facts and Figures

For more statistics and information about spinal cord injury, download the free NSCISC SCI Facts and Figures at a Glance factsheet.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.