Mortality rates, post-injury, neurological impairments, Life expectancy, National SCI Database, Tetra Tetra, Tetra Tetra Dependent, neurological impairment, persons, National Spinal Cord Injury, ASIA Impairment Scale, indirect costs, 33.3 College, high school graduates, musculoskeletal diseases, living expenses, spinal cord injury, Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, Level of education
This data sheet is a quick reference on demographics and the use of services by people with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Facts and Figures at a Glance 2016 SCI Data Sheet Incidence Given the current population size
of 314 million people in the U.S., the recent estimate showed that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) is approximately 54 cases per million population in the U.S. or approximately 17,000 new SCI cases each year. New SCI cases do not include those who die at the scene of the accident. Estimates are obtained from several studies and not derived from the National SCI Database.
The National SCI Database is a prospective longitudinal multicenter study that currently captures data from an estimated 6% of new SCI cases in the U.S. The database has demographic and condition status data through 2015 for 31,255 people with SCI.
Prevalence The number of people in the U.S. who are alive in 2016 who have SCI has been estimated to be approximately 282,000 persons, with a range from 243,000 to 347,000 persons. Estimates are obtained from several studies and not derived from the National SCI Database.
Age at Injury
The average age at injury has increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 42 years currently.
Males account for approximately 80% of new SCI cases.
Race/Ethnicity About 22% of injuries have occurred among non-Hispanic blacks since 2010, which is higher than the proportion of non-Hispanic blacks in the general population (12%).
0.5% 2% 1% Since 2010
Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic Origin Native American Asian Other
National SCI Statistical Center 515 Spain rehabilitation center
1717 6th Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35233-7330 For Statistics: 205-934-3342 For Business: 205-934-3320 TDD: 205-934-4642 FAX: 205-934-2709 E-mail: [email protected]
Etiology Vehicle crashes are currently the leading cause of injury, followed by falls, acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds), and sports/recreation activities. Lengths of stay
5% 4% 9% 13.5% 30.5%
Since 2010 38%
Vehicular Falls Violence Sports Medical/surgical Other
Lengths of stay in the hospital acute care unit have declined from 24 days in the 1970s to 11 days currently. Rehabilitation lengths of stay have also declined from 98 days in the 1970s to 35 days currently.
Neurological level and extent of lesion
Incomplete tetraplegia is currently the most frequent
0.4% Since 2010
neurological category followed by incomplete paraplegia, complete paraplegia, and complete tetraplegia. Less than 1% of persons experienced complete neurological recovery by hospital discharge.
Incomplete Tetraplegia Incomplete Paraplegia Complete Paraplegia Complete Tetraplegia
More than half of persons with SCI are single/never married at time of their injury. The percentage of persons who are married slowly increases over time, as does divorce.
At Year Year Year Year Year
Status (%) injury 1
51.4 50.2 41.4 35.3 29.5 21.3
32.8 32.3 33.8 35.8 39.1 43.4
9.5 11.2 19.1 23.5 24.6 21.3
At one year after injury, 12% of persons with SCI are employed, and by 20 years post-injury, about one third is employed.
At injury Year Year Year Year Year
58.1 12.4 27.7 34.3 32.7 25.9
15.1 15.8 6.9
Over half of persons with SCI are high school graduates
at time of their injury. Level of education slowly increases over time.
At Year Year Year Year Year
High school only 51.5 54.1 51.1 46.5 43.9 33.3
College or higher 10.9 12.2 21.8 29.1 35.7 43.7
Re-hospitalization About 30% of persons with SCI are re-hospitalized one or more times during any given year following injury. Among those rehospitalized the length of hospital stay averages about 22 days. Diseases of the genitourinary system are the leading cause of rehospitalization, followed by disease of the skin. Respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and musculoskeletal diseases are also common causes.
The average yearly expenses (health care
costs and living expenses) and the estimated lifetime costs that are directly attributable to SCI vary greatly based on education, neurological impairment, and pre-injury employment history. These estimates do not include any indirect costs such as losses in wages, fringe benefits, and productivity (indirect costs averaged $72,047 per year in 2015 dollars).
Severity of Injury High Tetraplegia (C1C4) AIS ABC Low Tetraplegia (C5C8) AIS ABC Paraplegia AIS ABC Motor Functional at Any Level AIS D
Average Yearly Expenses (in 2015 dollars)
Each Subsequent Year
Estimated Lifetime Costs by Age At Injury (discounted at 2%)
25 years old
50 years old
: Economic Impact of SCI published in the journal Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, Volume 16, Number 4, in 2011. ASIA Impairment Scale (AIS) is used to grade the severity of a person's neurological impairment following spinal cord injury.
The average remaining years of life for persons with SCI have not improved since the 1980s and remain significantly below life expectancies of persons without SCI. mortality rates
are significantly higher during the first year after injury than during subsequent years, particularly for persons with the most severe neurological impairments.
Age at Injury 20 40 60
No SCI 59.5 40.6 23.1
Life expectancy (years) for post-injury by severity of injury and age at injury
For persons who survive the first 24 hours
For persons surviving at least 1 year post-injury
Ventilator AIS D--Motor
Tetra Dependent Functional at
Para (C5C8) (C1C4) Any Level
Para (C5C8) (C1C4) Any Level
Cause of death Persons enrolled in the National SCI Database since its inception in 1973 have now been followed for 40 years after injury. During that time, the causes of death that appear to have the greatest impact on reduced life expectancy for this population are pneumonia and septicemia. Mortality rates are declining for cancer, heart disease
, stroke, arterial diseases, pulmonary embolus, urinary diseases, digestive diseases, and suicide. However, these gains are being offset by increasing mortality rates for endocrine, metabolic and nutritional diseases, accidents, nervous system
diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and mental disorder
s. There has been no change in the mortality rate for septicemia in the past 40 years, and only slight decrease in mortality due to Respiratory Disease
s. © 2016, Board of Trustees, University of Alabama. This is a publication of the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in collaboration with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. The contents of this publication were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DP0011). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government
. Data from the National SCI Database is from 28 federally funded SCI Model Systems since 1973. Presently, there are 14 systems and 5 Form II (follow up) centers sponsored by NIDILRR. For a complete list of current SCI Model Systems, go to www.msktc.org/sci/model-system-centers. Citation: National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, Facts and Figures at a Glance. Birmingham, AL: University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2016.
NH White, NH Black