Of all the injuries you can sustain in a car crash, fall or other accident, a spinal cord injury is one of the most catastrophic. These life-altering injuries can leave you partially or totally paralyzed, requiring your use of a wheelchair to navigate your new-normal world.
According to data compiled by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, accidents cause 17,810 SCIs each year in the U.S.
Paraplegia and quadriplegia
An SCI breaks the flow of information between your brain and the rest of your body. Consequently, depending on how high up on your spinal cord your SCI occurs, you likely will experience paralysis, i.e., little, if any, sensation or the ability to move, below your point of injury.
If your SCI occurs in your lower back, paraplegia results. As a paraplegic, you will be unable to walk because of the paralysis in your hips, legs, ankles and feet.
If your SCI occurs in your neck or upper back, quadriplegia results. This condition affects virtually your entire body. Not only does it become impossible for you to walk, but also to move your arms and hands.
You face extraordinary initial and ongoing financial costs after sustaining an SCI. The NSCISC estimates these costs as follows:
- $500,000 in the first year for a paraplegic; $1.1 million for a quadriplegic
- $75,000 in each year thereafter for a paraplegic; $200,000 for a quadriplegic
- $2 million lifetime costs for a paraplegic; $5 million for a quadriplegic, assuming you sustain your SCI at age 25
These figures represent only your economic costs. You will also experience grave noneconomic costs, including your physical, mental and emotional pain, suffering and anguish, your struggle to adjust to your new life, your loss of independence, and possibly severe PTSD and depression.