Spinal cord injuries occur for a variety of reasons, but accidents on the road or falls on work sites like construction zones or shipyards increase that risk. The severity of the injury may leave an injured person with months of physical therapy and years of medical debt.
According to the World Health Organization, between 250,000 and 500,000 people suffer an SCI every year around the world and the consequences include high costs of surgery and rehabilitation. First-year costs are generally higher than in subsequent years.
SCIs and first-year costs
Not all SCIs are equal. The higher up the spine is a general indicator for the severity. Depending on the injury, a person may experience anything from partial loss of motor control all the way up to total paralysis of their body. Paraplegia refers to the paralysis of the legs or bottom half of the body while tetraplegia refers to paralysis throughout all four limbs or the body. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, these average yearly costs vary along with the severity:
- Motor function of any kind: $375,196
- Paraplegia: $560,287
- Low Tetraplegia: $830,708
- High Tetraplegia: $1,149,629
Costs in subsequent years
A paralyzed life requires maintenance and incurs a variety of costs. Motor function loss amounted to a yearly average of $45,572 in subsequent costs. Paraplegia raises average costs up to $74,221. Tetraplegia’s average, low or high, ranges between $122,468 and $199,637.
No matter what causes an SCI, injured people face costs and consequences they may have to navigate for the rest of their lives. Until medical science comes up with a cure, their next best bet is securing the support and compensation they need to adjust to their new normal.