The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that up to 373,000 people live with a spinal cord injury in the United States. The majority of spinal cord injuries result from a sudden, traumatic blow to the column of vertebrae (spinal bones) that surround and protect the spinal cord and its nerves. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of spinal cord injury at 38.2%, closely followed by falls at 32.3%. Other common causes include sports, recreation, gunshot wounds, and other acts of violence.
What are the Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries are classified as either complete or incomplete. Complete injuries cause total paralysis below the level of injury and affect both sides of the body. Incomplete injuries allow the body and brain to communicate still, and some function remains on one or both sides of the body.
Four forms of paralysis can result from a spinal cord injury:
- Monoplegia: affects just one limb
- Hemiplegia: affects either side of the body
- Paraplegia: affects both legs
- Quadriplegia/Tetraplegia: affects all four limbs
The spinal cord is divided into sections:
- Cervical spine: includes vertebrae C1-C7, which form the neck
- Thoracic spine: includes vertebrae T1-T12, which form the upper back
- Lumbar spine: includes the end of the spinal cord and vertebrae L1-L5, which form the base of the spine
- Sacral spine: does not include the spinal cord but has spinal nerves. Includes vertebrae S1-S5, which form the end of the spinal column.
The higher the location of the injury on the spinal cord, the more dysfunction can occur.
Spinal cords are responsible for movement, sensation, and carrying signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When damaged, the spinal cord can cause a range of issues such as:
- Sensory loss
- Complete or incomplete paralysis
- Intestinal malfunction
- Difficulty breathing
- Mood or personality changes
- Sexual dysfunction
- Nerve pain
- Loss of fertility
- Muscle pain
Injuries to the spinal cord are devastating and can change the way a person lives forever. Victims of spinal cord injuries may be eligible to recover compensation from the negligent party responsible.
The estimated lifetime financial expenses directly attributed to spinal cord injuries will vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury and your unique case. These are the average yearly health care costs and living expenses for people suffering from spinal cord injuries by severity (in 2020 dollars):
- High tetraplegia
- $1,163,425 average yearly expense for the first year
- $202,032 average yearly expense each following year
- $5,162,152 estimated lifetime costs at 25 years old
- $2,837,031 estimated lifetime costs at 50 years old
- Low tetraplegia
- $840,676 average yearly expense for the first year
- $123,938 average yearly expense each following year
- $3,771,791 estimated lifetime costs at 25 years old
- $2,319,988 estimated lifetime costs at 50 years old
- $567,011 average yearly expense for the first year
- $75,112 average yearly expense each following year
- $2,524,270 estimated lifetime costs at 25 years old
- $1,656,602 estimated lifetime costs at 50 years old
- Motor functional at any level
- $379,698 average yearly expense for the first year
- $46,119 average yearly expense each following year
- $1,724,594 estimated lifetime costs at 25 years old
- $1,217,266 estimated lifetime costs at 50 years old
These estimates do not include any indirect financial costs such as loss of income or reduced productivity, but the average of indirect costs adds up to almost $79,000 per year.
Treatments for spinal cord injuries can range from surgery to injections to long-term care and rehabilitation. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted from an act of negligence, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your expenses in Texas. With Sutliff & Stout, you can rest assured that we will build the most robust case possible for your claim using our legal expertise and decades of experience in Texas car accident law. Give us a call at (713) 987-7111 or complete a contact form to schedule a free consultation for your personal injury case with a TX accident lawyer today.