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What Are the Lifetime Costs of a Spinal Injury?

A serious spinal injury is one of the most severe injuries a human being can experience. A spinal cord injury almost always results in some form of paralysis, ranging from a relatively slight reduction of motor function up to total paralysis below the individual’s neck.

Unfortunately, the medical costs involved in a spinal cord injury are equally severe. They are also long-lasting. An individual who experiences a severe spinal cord injury will have the highest medical costs during the first year after the injury, but the costs in subsequent years are still staggering. For a relatively healthy individual, the lifetime costs of even a relatively minor spinal cord injury are likely to be in excess of a million dollars.

This article will give you a brief overview of the types of spinal cord injuries, the costs you can expect to incur, and your options for getting these medical costs paid.

Severity of Spinal Injuries

The two most important factors in determining the severity of a spinal cord injury are the level of the injury and the completeness of the damage. The level of an injury identifies the location of the vertebra damaged in the injury—an injury to one of the neck vertebrae, for example, will be more likely to cause extensive damage than an injury to one of the lower vertebrae.

The completeness of the injury refers to the extent of the damage to the spine. Injuries are either complete or incomplete. Complete injuries are the more severe of the two, leading to total paralysis below the site of the injury, while incomplete injuries generally allow some function past this point.

Spinal injuries can lead to tetraplegia, in which the individual loses motor capacity in both the arms and the legs, or paraplegia, where they lose movement in only the legs. Tetraplegia and paraplegia can be complete or incomplete. Lesser injuries can also result in some loss of motor function.

Costs of Spinal Injuries
The lifetime costs of spinal injuries vary widely depending on the age of the individual and his or her health at the time of the injury. These estimates from The
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