What Are the Lifetime Costs of Paralysis?

A spinal cord injury is serious, and paralysis is a possibility in many cases. There are approximately 17,900 new spinal cord injury cases in the U.S. every year.

The cost of living with paralysis can be high depending on the type of paralysis and the victim’s age. Seeking compensation for your injuries can help cover these expenses.

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Accidents involving motor vehicles and falls are the top two causes of traumatic spinal injuries.

Sports and recreational activities are also known causes.

Types of Paralysis

The placement and severity of the spinal injuries can affect the long-term medical costs a patient incurs. Paraplegia means the injury involves the lower parts of your body, while tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, affects both the upper and lower extremities.

Damage to the spinal cord can be either complete or incomplete. Incomplete spinal cord injuries mean that the spinal cord is not completely severed, and the person may still experience some sensation or movement below the injury site. For complete spinal cord injuries, the person has no feeling or motor control below the level of injury.

Incomplete quadriplegia is the most common type of spinal cord injury, in which there is sensation below the trauma site, but no function. Other common spinal cord injuries are incomplete paraplegia and complete paraplegia. The number of patients with spinal cord injuries who recover neurologically before leaving hospital care is below 1%.

The Average Hospitalization Duration

An average stay in an acute care unit at a hospital is 11 days, and in-patient rehabilitation typically takes at least 31 days. The rehospitalization rate for people with spinal cord injuries due to complications has been around 30% since 2015. The average length of a hospital stay for a re-hospitalized individual is roughly 18 days.

Real Lifetime Costs of Paralysis

Those who suffer from spinal cord injuries will incur high medical bills. The highest bills are typically incurred in the first year after the injury, often reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more than $1,000,000.00. Medical costs for subsequent years over the person’s lifetime should be expected for treatment such as physical therapy, monitoring of bowel and bladder programs, replacement of prosthetics, and complications, which are unfortunately common with people who have suffered a traumatic spine injury. 

Other significant costs, such as those associated with retrofitting the home or motor vehicle to be handicapped accessible, are also incurred. Costly home exercise equipment and other aids that much be replaced periodically over time will also be necessary. The lifetime costs for paralyzed patients can be staggering. 

Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries

Even with improvements in medical technology and therapy, it’s rare to recover from spinal cord injuries. The long-term treatment of spinal cord injuries often includes helping the injured person become more independent.

Treatment costs can vary based on the type of paralysis, the location of the injury, the average medical and treatment cost in the victim’s area, the victim’s age, other medical conditions, and previous injuries. Expenses may also include medical procedures, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and long-term care.

How to Get Compensation for a Suspected Spinal Cord Injury

Legal and medical aspects of spinal cord injuries are complex. An expert witness is often required to explain the extent of the injury and the expected costs of any future operations and treatment. To prove that the victim’s injuries are genuine, the insurance company will review any previous medical records and bills to determine if the victim has underlying medical conditions or pre-existing injuries.

In addition to compensation for medical and lifetime care, the victim may sue for other economic damages like lost wages and loss of future earnings. You may also recover non-economic damages from emotional distress, pain, suffering, and the loss of the quality and enjoyment of life.

Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers You Can Rely On

The Indianapolis spinal cord injury lawyers at Wagner Reese can help you file a claim for compensation if you sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident. We will represent you  in pre-suit settlement negotiations with the insurance company and in court, should your case proceed to litigation  to obtain the maximum recovery possible. Get in touch with us today to schedule your free case evaluation.