Spinal cord injuries lead to lifelong expenses that can be very costly. Generally, higher level injuries are associated with higher expenses than lower level injuries. Another factor that affects the lifelong expenses associated with the injury is the age of the victim. Younger spinal cord injury patients are likely to have higher expenses because of the number of years they are likely to live after the injury occurs. It is easy to understand the financial devastation that occurs after this type of injury when you consider some averages associated with spinal cord injuries.
The expenses that a person with a spinal cord injury will incur is usually highest during the first year. A high tetraplegia injury means an average of $1,064,716 in direct expenses, which includes living expenses and medical care, in the first year. A low tetraplegia injury means an average of $769,351. Paraplegia is associated with an average of $518,904 of direct expenses in the first year. Any level of injury that is associated with incomplete motor function is associated with $347,484 the first year.
After the first year, the average cost of annual direct expenses is reduced significantly. High tetraplegia costs around $184,891, low tetraplegia costs an average of $113,423, paraplegia costs around $68,739, and an incomplete motor function costs an average of $42,206 per year.
On top of the first year expenses and subsequent year expenses, there is an additional average of $71,961 of costs per year. These indirect costs include losses in productivity, fringe benefits, and wages.
Since a person with a spinal cord injury isn’t likely able to work, these costs must be covered in other ways. One way is to seek compensation for the damages associated with the injury if the injury was the result of an accident.
Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “Costs of living with SCI,” accessed April 28, 2016