What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

injuries | June 25, 2021

Injuries occur in a wide variety of ways and can affect different parts of a person’s body. However, some injuries are considered catastrophic. One of the most catastrophic injuries that can occur is a spinal cord injury. Not all spinal cord injuries are alike. Here, we want to discuss what is spinal cord injury is, how are these injuries occur, and how much a spinal cord injury could cost a victim and their family.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries And How They Occur

Spinal cord injuries are considered catastrophic, though there are different levels of spinal cord injuries that can occur. For example, spinal cord injury can be considered “incomplete” or “complete.”

  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries are the most common type of spinal cord injury that can occur. An incomplete spinal cord injury can affect motor and sensory pathways or nerves. These injuries can result in significant consequences for the injury victim, including partial paralysis.
  • Complete spinal cord injuries occur less often, but they are much more severe. In general, a person with a complete spinal cord injury will suffer from:
    • Tetraplegia, which causes paralysis to every limb of the body.
    • Paraplegia, which involves a person losing movement in sensation of the lower limbs.

When we look at information from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see that data from 2015 to 2019 reveals that the top causes of spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Vehicle accidents (39.3%)
  • Falls (31.8%)
  • Violence (13.5%)
  • Sports and recreation incidents (8.0%)
  • Medical or surgical mistakes (4.3%)
  • Other causes (3.1%)

The True Costs Associated With Spinal Cord Trauma

Spinal cord trauma can result in significant life changes for victims and their family members. When we examine the costs of a spinal cord injury, we often begin with just looking at the medical care.

According to the NSCISC, we can see that the first year of medical care for a spinal cord injury ranges anywhere from approximately $360,000 to more than $1,000,000. The data also shows that every following year of treatment until the end of a person’s life can bring annual costs ranging from around $44,000 to more than $200,000.

However, if we only look at the medical costs associated with a spinal cord injury, we would not gain a good understanding of the true suffering that spinal cord injury victims and their family members endure. Other economic costs of spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Lost wages of the injury victim if they cannot work
  • Lost wages of any family member who may have to become a caregiver
  • The cost of travel to and from medical treatments
  • Payments for any vehicles made for spinal cord injury victims
  • The cost to modify a home to help with mobility of the spinal cord injury victim

We would be remiss if we did not discuss the incredible level of emotional and psychological trauma that spinal cord injury victims and their family members endure in these situations. This is considered a non-economic loss, but that does not make it any less real. Spinal cord injury victims have to adjust to a completely new lifestyle, and so do their family members. Any injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another party should result in the victim being able to recover compensation for all of their economic and non-economic losses with the help of a spinal cord injury attorney.