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How common is paralysis in the U.S.?

A large number of people in West Virginia and throughout the country probably recognize the name Christopher Reeve. Residents may remember him as the tall and athletic actor who starred as Clark Kent, and his alter-ego, Superman, in the famed Superman movies. On the other hand, some people may recognize his name and associate it with a completely different set of circumstances.

In 1995, the famous actor suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury resulting from a fall while he was riding in an equestrian competition. The accident left Reeve paralyzed from the neck down. Reeve put a positive spin on his paralysis by starting a foundation with his wife and giving his time and money to raising awareness and providing research and support for people with paralysis.

Although Reeve passed away in 2004, his foundation continues, and it distributes a wealth of information about paralysis and spinal cord injuries. For example, some people might wonder just how common paralysis is throughout the country. According to a report from Reeve's foundation, roughly 5.6 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of paralysis. In addition, about 1.275 million are paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury is the second leading cause of paralysis, accounting for about 23 percent of all paralysis victims. Of those spinal cord injuries, about 310,000 per year result from motor vehicle accidents, and more than 360,000 involve work accidents. Accidents involving falls also contribute a substantial amount of the spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis, causing roughly 112,000 per year.

These kinds of injuries can truly devastate a person's way of life. Although Reeve was able to lead a productive life for his remaining years after his injury, most victims don't have the resources that he had. Accordingly, people who suffer from paralysis and spinal cord injuries due to an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence should understand their options for a legal cause of action.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, "One Degree of Separation:

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