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Spinal Cord Injury Statistics

Did you know that statistics tell us that every hour of every day, another person is spinal cord injured?

According to the National SCI Statistical Center (NSCISC):

General Statistics

  • Approximately 17,500 new traumatic spinal cord injuries each year in the USA.
  • Males account for about 81% of new SCI cases.
  • Approximately 245,000 to 353,000 people in the USA living with chronic SCI, caused by a trauma.
  • Average age at the time of injury is 42 years old currently.
  • Lengths of stay in the hospital acute care unit have declined to 11 days currently.
  • Lengths of stay in rehabilitation have declined to 35 days currently.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury: The chart below illustrates the most common causes of spinal cord injuries.  Vehicle crashes are currently the leading cause of injury, followed by falls, acts of violence and sports/recreation activities.

Since 2010 Vehicular Falls Violence Sports Medical/
38.4% 30.5% 13.5% 8.9% 4.7% 4.0%

Neurological Level and Extent of Lesion: Incomplete tetraplegia is currently the most frequent neurological category.

Since 2010 Incomplete
45.8% 20.9% 19.7% 13.2 .4%

Lifetime Costs: The average yearly expenses (health care costs and living expenses) and the estimated lifetime costs that are directly attributable to SCI vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history.  These estimates do not include any indirect costs such as losses in wages, fringe benefits, and productivity.

  Average Yearly Expenses
(in 2016 dollars)
Estimated Lifetime Costs by
Age at Injury (discounted at 2%)
Severity of Injury First Year
Each Subsequent Year
25 Years Old
50 Years Old
High Tetraplegia (C1-C4) AIS ABC $1,079,412 $187,443 $4,789,384 $2,632,164
Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8) AIS ABC $779,969 $114,988 $3,499,423 $2,152,458
Paraplegia AIS ABC $526,066 $69,688 $2,341,988 $1,536,976
Motor Functional at Any Level AIS D $352,279 $42,789 $1,600,058 $1,129,365

Life Expectancy (years) for Post-Injury by Severity of Injury at Age at Injury:

Age at Injury No SCI AIS D-Motor Functional at Any Level
Para Low Tetra
High Tetra
Ventilator Dependent
Any Level
AIS D-Motor Functional at Any Level Para Low Tetra
High Tetra
Ventilator Dependent
Any Level
20 59.6 53.0 45.9 40.3 34.0 10.6 53.4 46.4 41.3 5.3 18.1
40 40.7 35.3 29.8 25.0 20.9 8.5 35.6 30.63 25.8 22.2 13.0
60 23.2 19.6 16.0 13.3 11.1 3.7 19.8 16.5 14.1 12.5 7.9

For more statistics on SCI see:

SCI Facts and Figures at a Glance from NSCISC, or contact:
The National SCI Statistical Center
1717 6th Avenue South, Room 515
Birmingham, AL 35233-7330
PHONE: 205-934-3320; TDD: 205-934-4642
FAX: 205-934-2709

(Statistics listed above are as of February, 2018)