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Spinal Cord Injury - Quadriplegic

Did You Know?

Each year, nearly 11,000 Americans sustain a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), and many of them suffer permanent disabilities. More than 190,000 persons in the U.S. live with paralysis caused by SCI.

Spinal Cord Injury Quick Facts:

  • Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of SCI (44%), followed by acts of violence (24%), falls (22%), sports (8%), and other causes (2%)
  • Over a third of these new cases are caused as a result of car accidents and over 80% involve males between the ages of 16-30
  • Accidents and violence cause an estimated 10,000 spinal cord injuries each year, and more than 200,000 Americans live day-to-day with the disabling effects of such trauma
  • The number of people in the United States who are alive today and who have SCI has been estimated to be between 721 and 906 per million of population. This corresponds to between 183,000 and 203,000 people
  • 2/3 of the sports-related injuries are from diving.
  • Falls overtake motor vehicles as the leading cause after age 45
  • Acts of violence and sports cause less injuries as age increases
  • Acts of violence have overtaken falls as the second most common source of spinal cord injury
  • Mortality rates are significantly higher during the first year after injury than during subsequent years, particularly for severely injured persons
  • 91.7% of all persons with SCI who are discharged alive from the system are sent to a private, non institutional residence (in most cases their homes before injury.) Only 4.6% are discharged to nursing homes
  • More than half (63.5%) of those persons with SCI reported being employed at the time of their injury. The post-injury employment picture is better among persons with paraplegia than among their tetraplegic counterparts. By post-injury year 10, 35.4% of persons with paraplegia are employed, while 23.1% of those with tetraplegia are employed during the same year.

Source: National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) The above information was taken directly from the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention web site.  It is meant for educational purposes only.

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling. Spinal cord injuries are often caused by accidents. Many times, these injuries result from motor vehicle accidents. They can also be caused by a variety of other accidents, like falls, sports-related accidents, boating mishaps, accidental shootings, and ATV, snowmobile, and bicycle accidents.

The spinal cord is the largest nerve in the body. It is approximately 18 inches long and runs from the base of the brain, down the middle of the back, to the waist. A spinal cord injury is any injury of the nerve elements within the spinal cord. Most spinal cord injuries result from trauma to the vertebral column. This can affect the spinal cord's ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the parts of the body that control sensory, motor, and autonomic functions. The effect on the body depends on the location and severity of the spinal cord injury.

A person can "break their back or neck" yet not sustain a spinal cord injury if only the bones around the spinal cord (the vertebrae) are damaged, but the spinal cord is not affected. In these situations, the individual may not experience paralysis after the bones are stabilized. The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of functioning to occur. In fact, in most people with SCI, the spinal cord is intact, but the damage to it results in loss of functioning. SCI is very different from other back injuries such as ruptured disks, or pinched nerves.

What are the symptoms of spinal cord injury?

Severe SCI often causes paralysis (loss of control over voluntary movement and muscles of the body) and loss of sensation and reflex function below the point of injury, including autonomic activity such as breathing and other activities such as bowel and bladder control. Other symptoms such as pain or sensitivity to stimuli, muscle spasms, and sexual dysfunction may develop over time. SCI patients are also prone to develop secondary medical problems, such as bladder infections, lung infections, and bedsores.

Typical Spinal Cord Claims

Auto Accidents: In these situations, insurance policies of the drivers may cover the costs of the injury and rehabilitation. Issues of fault may or may not be relevant depending on the state.

Victims of Violence : If your injury is a result of a violent attack, like a shooting, you may be entitled to legal compensation for your injuries. For example, if the attack took place in a shopping mall parking lot, the shopping mall may be responsible for damages.

Slips and Falls: if the fall took place on a construction site or on someone's property, the owners may be responsible (even if the owner is a family member). Also, defective products such as ladders may not be designed with sufficient safety features. In many of these cases, the injured person may be entitled to legal compensation.

Sports-related accidents: (accounting for 6% of cases) are often related to diving accidents. If the injury is at a swimming pool, the homeowner's insurance policy or the managers of the pool may provide compensation.

In all of these cases, it is difficult to tell where responsibility and liability lie. An experienced lawyer can help you determine what legal compensation is available.


Quadriplegia (also known as Tetraplegia ) generally describes the condition of a person with a spinal cord injury that is at a level from C1 to T1. This type of injury often results in a loss of feeling and/or movement in the head, neck, shoulder, arms and/or upper chest.


Paraplegia is the general term describing the condition of a person who has lost feeling and/or is not able to move the lower parts of his/her body. The body parts that may be affected are the chest, stomach, hips, legs and feet. An individual with a level of injury from T2 to S5 has paraplegia.


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