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Spinal Cord Injury Statistics

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics -- Insight From Experienced California Attorneys

Just like the brain, spinal cord injuries are very serious given it doesn’t have the capacity to regrow new cells in order to recover. In turn, victims of spinal cord injuries are often left to deal with lifelong disabilities.  Spinal cord injuries can be caused by damage to any part of a person’s spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. These injuries are catastrophic and can easily cause permanent changes in strength, tactile sensation, and other crucial bodily functions. Sometimes a spinal cord is severed completely or to the point that it completely cuts off all sensation to the nerves below that area of a victim’s body. Moreover, these types of injuries are particularly delicate because they can also affect other parts of the body.  Our experienced legal team at West Coast Employment Lawyers compiled some of the most insightful and shocking statistics concerning spinal cord injuries. If you or a person you loved experienced a spinal cord injury at the hands of someone else’s negligence or due to a faulty product, reach out to us for a free consultation. 
  • A recent estimate showed that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury is approximately 54 cases per one million people in the U.S., or about 17,730 new cases each year.
  • According to data quoted by Statista, the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. between 2015 and 2019 were vehicular accidents at 38.6%.
  • The following most common causes of spinal cord injuries are falls (22%), violence (16%) and sports injuries (12%). Moreover, alcohol intoxication plays a role in 25% of all spinal cord injuries.
  • However, falls overtake motor vehicles as the leading cause after the age of 45. Similarly, acts of violence and sports cause less injuries as age increases.
  • The average age at injury has increased from 29 years old during the 1970s to 43 years old recently. 
  • Nearly half (47.6%) of all injuries occur between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • About 78% of new spinal cord injury cases are male.
  • About 23% of injuries have occurred among non-Hispanic blacks, which is higher than the proportion of non-Hispanic blacks in the general population (13%).
  • According to data compiled by the Loyola University Health System and quoted by Science Daily, life expectancy after a spinal cord injury ranges from 1.5 years for a ventilator-dependent patient older than 60, to 52.6 years for a 20-year-old patient with preserved motor function. 
  • According to the University of Washington, the average life expectancy after a spinal cord injury was only 18 months in 1940. By 1998, the estimated life expectancy showed greater resemblance to that of the general population. 
  • Approximately 10 to 20% of patients who have sustained a spinal cord injury do not survive to reach acute hospitalization, whereas about 3% of patients die during acute hospitalization, according to one study
  • Lengths of stay in the hospital acute care unit have declined from 24 days in the 1970s to 11 days recently. Rehabilitation lengths of stay have also declined from 98 days in the 1970s to 31 days recently.
  • Since 2015, about 30% of persons with a spinal cord injury are re-hospitalized one or more times during any given year following injury.
  • Among patients who are not completely paralyzed, 80% stand by 12 months and 50% walk out of the hospital by 12 months, with improvements continuing for two years after injury.
  • 53% percent of spinal cord injury patients are left tetraplegic (partial or total paralysis of the arms, legs, and torso), and 42% are left paraplegic (partial or total paralysis of the legs).
  • Patients with a complete spinal cord injury have a less than 5% chance of recovery. If complete paralysis persists at 72 hours after injury, recovery is essentially zero.
  • Overall, 81% of patients who survive the first 24 hours are still alive 10 years later. 
  • 87.4% of all spinal cord injury patients are discharged from hospitals to a private home, and 6.7% are discharged to nursing homes
  • Since 2015, 17% of persons with a spinal cord injury are employed at year one post-injury. The employment rate increases over time to 32% at 30 years post injury. 
  • The percentage of spinal cord injury individuals unemployed 10 years after their injury is 77%.
  • It costs between $320,000 and $985,000 to treat a spinal cord injury patient the first year and as much as $5 million during the patient's lifetime.

West Coast Trial Lawyers is Here to Help

If your spinal cord injury was caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. Lawsuits for spinal cord injuries typically fall into two categories: negligence and faulty or defective products.

Moreover, California is a comparative negligence state, which means that a spinal cord injury victim may still recover some damages even if he or she is found partially liable for the accident. An injury victim’s available damages will of course be reduced by his or her degree of fault.

Needless to say, a spinal cord injury is physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. A spinal cord injury attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more.

Call us today at (888) 915-7572 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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