Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) often require ongoing medical care, and the cost of treatment can be extremely high. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the lifetime cost of treating a patient with an SCI depends on the severity of the trauma and the patient’s age.
Almost two-thirds of those who suffer spinal cord injuries endure incomplete injuries. These are still significant injuries, but they may allow the person to recover some movement and coordination. However, this takes time, treatment, and hard work. Less than 1 percent of those hospitalized with a spinal cord injury make a full neurological recovery before their release.
Taking a Hard Look at the Costs of Spinal Cord Injuries
When we consider the cost of treating a spinal cord injury, we are only talking about medical bills and related expenses. These numbers do not consider:
- Lost income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of services; or
- Non-economic damages
Based on data gathered from 2010 to 2014, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation calculates the average cost of an SCI includes:
A person with high tetraplegia, an injury affecting all four limbs, could spend more than $1 million for treatment in the first year alone – and that does not include lost income. The estimated cost of care for each subsequent year is $184,891.
Relatively Minor Injuries
Even a minor spine injury can be expensive to treat. Any level of incomplete motor function will cost an estimated $347,484 for treatment during the first year and $42,206 for each subsequent year.
Range of Lifetime Costs
Lifetime costs can range from an average of $4,724,181 for a young patient who suffered a complete spinal cord injury in the neck or upper back to about $1,113,990 for an older patient who suffered an incomplete injury.
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Why Are Spinal Injuries So Expensive to Treat?
Consider these three reasons why SCIs are among the most expensive type of injuries to treat:
Spinal Injuries Can Affect Many of the Body’s Functions
Your spine plays an integral role in many of your body’s functions. An SCI can affect bowel and bladder control, movement, mobility, and a person’s ability to live independently. Often, patients with spinal injuries require various treatments for individual symptoms, the costs of which can add up quickly.
Patients Often Need Specialized Surgery
Some SCI patients undergo surgeries to prevent further damage. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), a doctor may recommend surgery if a patient suffers a blood clot, lesion, or herniated disc that compresses the spinal cord. Although undergoing surgery might not improve the patient’s mobility, it can stabilize their condition and prevent future discomfort and medical complications.
Patients Usually Require Rehabilitation and Ongoing Medical Treatment
Many who suffer neurological symptoms of an SCI will require inpatient rehabilitation or therapies before discharge. This allows them to regain as many skills and functionality as possible and learn to live with new impairments.
Several medical complications may accompany a spinal cord injury. Patients often develop thrombosis, pneumonia, and ulcers, which can be expensive to treat. Some patients require 24-hour supervision from a live-in nurse.
Patients with paralyzing spinal cord injuries often rely on wheelchairs and other technologies for mobility. This equipment is costly to buy and maintain. It may be necessary for those with complete injuries to invest in lifts, special beds and showers, and other items.
What Are the Top Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in the United States?
According to Mayo Clinic, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Falls, violent acts, and sports and recreational injuries are other causes.
Any of these causes could support an injury lawsuit if it occurred because of another person’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation for medical care, lost income, property damages, and non-economic damages. A financial recovery could make the lifetime costs of your injury much easier to live with.
It is not easy to recover fair compensation in a personal injury claim. You will need to show extensive evidence to prove negligence, liability, causation, and damages. This often requires testimonies from medical and financial experts and witnesses. An attorney can handle your claim while you focus on healing from your injuries.
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Get Your Free Case Assessment Today
If someone else’s carelessness or recklessness caused you to suffer a spinal cord injury, the Morris Bart law firm may be able to help. One of our accident lawyers will assess your case for free to determine if you have grounds for a claim or lawsuit. We serve clients in 15 locations across Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
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