The impact of SCI goes far beyond the inability of individuals to walk. Sensory impairment, chronic pain, and deficits in autonomic, bowel, bladder, and sexual function can profoundly affect patients’ functionality, psychological well-being, quality of life, and ability to earn an income.
Substantial costs — both direct and indirect — are associated with SCI. Direct costs, which include hospital and medical expenses, modification of the home, and personal assistance, are highest in the first year after injury and have been estimated at an average of $1,044,197 for individuals with high tetraplegia (C1-C4) AIS ABC; $754,524 for individuals with low tetraplegia (C5-C8) AIS ABC; and $508,904 for individuals with paraplegia AIS ABC.
Indirect costs such as losses in wages and productivity average $70,575 per year in February 2013 dollars, although this figure varies markedly based on education, severity of injury, and pre-injury employment status.