man in wheelchair

How Will a Spinal Cord Injury Affect My Quality of Life?

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating event that can instantly change your life. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), about 17,810 people experience an SCI each year. At this alarming rate, it’s essential to examine how an injured individual’s quality of life will be affected by an SCI.

Paralysis Resulting From SCI

One of the most common effects of an SCI is paralysis. Paralysis occurs when the spinal cord is damaged, causing a loss of sensation and muscle function below the point of injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, paralysis can be partial or complete. Incomplete paralysis means that some movement and sensation are still possible below the point of injury, while complete paralysis means that there is no movement or sensation possible. The two main types of paralysis are:

  • Paraplegia - Paraplegia is paralysis of the lower half of the body, including the legs and sometimes the abdominal muscles.
  • Quadriplegia (also called Tetraplegia) - Quadriplegia is paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs.

Financial Implications

The financial implications of an SCI can be devastating. Those who have maintained motor function through their SCI can still expect to pay around $375,000 on medical expenses and costs of living alone within one year of diagnosis. In fact, the more paralyzed a victim is, the more they will have to pay, with C1-C4 tetraplegia sufferers having to pay over $1,100,000 in their first year.

Employment Concerns

People with paralysis may also face difficulties getting back into the workforce. Individuals who have been permanently disabled as a result of an SCI are often unable to return to their previous job, or any job at all, due to their physical limitations.

Not only can this lead to financial strain, but it can lead to SCI sufferers feeling a lack of purpose. Only 20 percent of persons with SCI are employed one year out from injury. The employment rate jumps to almost 30 percent when they are 20 years out from injury.

Chance of Re-Hospitalization

Additionally, SCI patients are also more likely to be re-hospitalized due to secondary conditions. 30 percent of persons with SCI are re-hospitalized at least once for a period of around 18 days. The leading cause of hospitalization is diseases in the genitourinary system, with skin disease following closely behind.

Life Expectancy

Finally, life expectancy for SCI patients has also decreased. A healthy person with no SCI at age 20 can expect to live approximately 59.4 more years. Conversely, a 20 year old SCI victim with motor skills can expect to live 52 more years; with paraplegia: 44.7 more; with a C5-C8 tetraplegia: 39.1 more; with a C1-C4 tetraplegia: 32.5 more.

Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys at McGinn Montoya Love Curry & Sievers PA

If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury, you deserve to be compensated for everything you're going through. At McGinn Montoya Love Curry & Sievers PA, our experienced attorneys can help determine your rights and options in this situation, as well as provide guidance on the best legal course of action.

If you’ve suffered a catastrophic spine injury in New Mexico, call McGinn Montoya Love Curry & Sievers PA today at (505) 405-4441 to schedule a free initial consultation.


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We are dedicated to supporting families during the most challenging times, with a focus exclusively on cases involving catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one. Please reach out if you have any questions. We look forward to speaking with you.

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