Learn all about Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and its impact

SCI is usually associated with what is commonly called a broken neck or broken back. Generally speaking, SCI is damage to the spinal nerves, the body’s central and most important nerve bundle, as a result of trauma to the backbone.

A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. Most injuries to the spinal cord don’t completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy axons — extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body. An injury to the spinal cord can damage a few, many, or almost all of these axons. Some injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others will result in complete paralysis.

Statistical Highlights

65% are unemployed
35% Diagnosed with Depression
52% Have no health coverage
50% deal with substance abuse
38% Vehicular inflicted
45% Incomplete Tetraplegia
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The average age at injury has increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 42 years currently.
  • Incomplete tetraplegia is currently the most frequent neurological category followed by incomplete paraplegia, complete paraplegia, and complete tetraplegia. Less than 1% of persons experienced complete neurological recovery by hospital discharge.
  • At one year after injury, 12% of persons with SCI are employed, and by 20 years post-injury, about one third is employed.
  • Click here for the official 2016 publication of the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in collaboration with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center.
New SCI incidents in the U.S. each year

people in the U.S. are living with SCI.
average yearly expense first year of injury (c1-c4)

“I know that we can empower those with SCIs to regain control of their lives and prepare for the cure through education and perseverance.”

~Rich Hamill, Founder and President