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Who suffers from spinal cord injuries?

People in West Virginia who have been affected by a spinal cord injury know that it can involve life-changing circumstances. Whether a person is a victim of such an injury or is a friend or relative of someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury, it can be a very difficult situation to understand.

Some people who suffer a spinal cord injury might feel like they are extraordinarily unlucky and that only fluke accidents cause these types of terrible injuries. But the reality of spinal cord injuries is that they affect thousands of people across the country. So who are these people that suffer from spinal cord injuries?

According to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), about 12,000 new spinal cord injury cases occur each year throughout the country. The data, which the NSCISC reported in 2013, shows that incidents of spinal cord injury are skewed toward younger adults. Almost half of all such injuries affected people between the ages of 16 and 30. In addition, males suffered more than 80 percent of all spinal cord injuries. Not surprisingly, the young age of many of these victims means that more than half of them are not married at the time of injury.

Almost 60 percent of spinal cord injury victims are employed at the time that they suffer the injury. Just one year after such an injury, however, that number drops to just below 12 percent. That large decline is an obvious indicator of just how devastating a spinal cord injury can be when it comes to everyday life activities.

Similarly, the costs of spinal cord injury are enormous. The statistics from the NSCISC show that the estimated lifetime costs of spinal cord injury for a 25-year-old victim could be somewhere between $1.5 million and $4.6 million. This disparity depends largely on the extent of any paralysis, as well as other facets of the injury. These costs only account for annual living and medical expenses, but do not factor in the high costs of lost wages and loss of productivity that are cause by spinal cord injury.

Although certain segments of the population are more likely than others to suffer from such injuries, an accident can lead to a spinal cord injury for any person.

Source: National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, "Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance," accessed Nov. 24, 2014

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