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 SCI Facts and Figures at a Glance factsheet published by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in 2021.

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: 47%
  • Incomplete Paraplegia: 19%
  • Complete Paraplegia: 20%
  • Complete Tetraplegia 12%

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 $78,633 per year in 2020 dollars).

Severity of Injury First Year Each Subsequent Year
High Tetraplegia (C1-C4) ASIS ABC $1.163,425 $202,032
Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8) $840,676 $123,938
Paraplegia $567,011 $75,112
Motor function at any level AIS D $379,698 $46,119

Estimated lifetime costs

Severity of Injury 25 Years Old 50 Years Old
High Tetraplegia (C1-C4) ASIS ABC $5,162,152 $2,537,031
Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8) ASIS ABC $3,771,791 $2,319,998
Paraplegia ASIS ABC $2,524,270 $1,656,602
Motor functional at any level AISD
$1,724,594 $1,217,226

More SCI Facts and Figures

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

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.