Spinal cord trauma is notoriously expensive. According to information provided by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (a well-known spinal cord research advocacy organization), a spinal cord injury that results in paraplegia will result in initial treatment costs of nearly $500,000 in the first year and nearly $70,000 every year for the remainder of the victim’s life. Initial treatment can include ambulance care, lengthy hospital stays, surgical procedures, necessary implants (rods, screws, plates, titanium cages, bone grafts, spinal cord stimulators, etc.), pain management/palliative care, medical equipment purchases (wheelchairs, walkers, braces, etc.), specialist care and nursing assistance.
Of course, the real cost of a spinal cord injury goes beyond the medical expenses associated with treatment. These catastrophic injuries can cause:
- Full or partial paralysis
- Loss of function of limbs and internal organs
- Secondary illnesses like bladder infections (for those with loss of bladder control who need catheters), blood clots, osteoporosis and pressure sores (also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers)
- Chronic pain
- Lack of access to career and educational opportunities
- Higher suicide rates than comparably aged and situated uninjured people
- Inability to work, both for the victim and any family members who provide primary care
- Need for lifelong nursing, rehabilitative or vocational assistance
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Common Causes Of Spinal Cord Injuries
Until recently, the majority of America’s spinal cord injuries were caused by motor vehicle accidents. Now, though, most of them result from falls and commonly involve our aging population. As life spans get longer, more and more people are at risk for falls, and the elderly are more likely to be seriously injured in a fall than someone who is younger and healthier and has higher bone density.
Another common cause of spinal cord injuries is organized sports, both at the amateur and professional levels. There have been instances in recent years where, for example, pro football players have suffered career-ending spinal cord injuries while on the field. Injuries have also been noted among primary and secondary school-aged boys and girls involved in football, softball, baseball, equestrian sports and hockey.
Reaching Out Following A Devastating Injury
If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, your life is going to change. In the past, your days may have been filled with work and leisure, but they could now consist of medical treatment, physical therapy, rehabilitation, pain management and adjustment to new limitations. If the injury came as a result of another person or business’s negligence, recklessness or misconduct, these adjustments are even more difficult to accept. You may be able to seek compensation from the responsible parties to cover medical treatment and your pain and suffering; seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney in your area for more information.