Paraplegia is among the most devastating and overwhelming injuries a person could possibly experience, mainly because of how significantly life-changing it can be. Victims of paraplegia typically lose all feeling and motor function of their lower extremities, and much of the time are unable to walk for the remainder of their lifetimes. In addition to the losses of physical ability, paraplegics typically require long-term care and even rehabilitation that can be extremely expensive, and medical bills related to treatment can be costly as well.
Background on Paraplegia Injuries
Paraplegia is caused by serious trauma to the spinal cord, particularly the vertebrae in the thoracic region of the spine. According to the Spinal Injury Network (SIN), paraplegia is defined as “complete or incomplete paralysis affecting the legs and possibly also the trunk, but not the arms.” SIN adds that the higher up on the spine that the injured thoracic vertebrae is located, the more likely the victim will maintain control of their arms.
We always think that these kinds of serious and catastrophic injuries will never happen to us, because it’s hard to imagine that an otherwise healthy, functioning person could moments later end up with paraplegia.
But the truth is, as many as 250,000 Americans are currently living with spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Of those with an SCI, 52 percent are identified as paraplegics and 47 percent are quadriplegic – a more serious form of SCI that results in a loss of sensory and motor function in all limbs and in the torso.
Paraplegia: Demographics, Causation and Implications
It’s hard to determine what demographic of people is at higher risk of suffering from paraplegia after a spinal cord injury, because these injuries are circumstantial and depend on many factors. However, statistics show that approximately 82 percent of all spinal cord injury victims are male and the average age of a victim is 31.
Paraplegia can be caused by a wide range of physical trauma, but the condition itself comes from damage to the spinal cord. The most common types of incidents that result in paraplegia are motor vehicle accidents (37 percent), acts of violence (28 percent), slip and fall incidents (21 percent) and sports-related accidents (6 percent).
From a victim’s standpoint, one of the most troubling statistics is that only 52 percent of people who suffer from a spinal cord injury are covered by their private health insurance policy. That means almost half of people who suffer an SCI are left to deal with the medical bills and other damages on their own, without any financial support. The average hospital stay for an SCI victim alone is 15 days, and rehabilitation can last as long as 50 days, and paraplegics can end up spending as much as $500,000 on future rehabilitation and medical treatment.
For those who have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, legal action is required in order to receive financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and future expenses. An experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate your personal injury claim and get accident victims the financial compensation they need to pay for medical bills and provide future treatment and rehabilitation for sufferers of spinal cord injuries.