Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Vehicle crashes are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. They account for about 40 per cent of the estimated 17,000 new cases each year. Another 30 per cent are caused by falls; acts of violence involving gunshot and knife wounds account for about 13 per cent. Athletic activities cause about 9 per cent. Use of alcohol is a factor in about 1 out of every 4 spinal cord injuries. More than 80 percent of all spinal cord injuries occur to young males, mostly between the ages of 16 and 30.

Frequent Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Dr. Lawrence Vogel defines incomplete and complete spinal cord injury

The most common type of spinal cord injury is incomplete quadriplegia, which accounts for almost half of all SCIs. Incomplete paraplegia accounts for about 20 per cent of all injuries. Complete paraplegia accounts for another 20 per cent; complete quadriplegia (tetraplegia) about 13 per cent. Less than 1 per cent of people with spinal cord injuries make a complete neurological recovery by the time of hospital discharge.

Length of Hospitalization and Rehabilitation Care

Lengths of stay in the acute care units of hospitals have dropped from an average of 24 days in the 1970’s to 11 days today. Rehabilitation stays have also dropped from 98 days to 25 days currently.

About 30 per cent of people with SCI are re-hospitalized within any given year after an injury. Urinary tract infections and skin breakdown (pressure ulcers) are the leading causes. The average length of hospital stay is about 22 days.

For more statistical details, download Facts and Figures at a Glance from NSCISC.

Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures