One of the more serious injuries that can occur in various settings in Pennsylvania is a spinal cord injury. Because of the vital role that the spinal cord plays in communicating information between the brain and various parts of the body, even a slight injury could have life-changing consequences. Statistics indicate that there are about 17,000 instances of new spinal cord injury per year in the United States, and the data related to these cases is monitored through the National SCI Database.
Since the establishment of the database in 1973, the number of people in the nation living with SCI at any given time has ranged from just over 240,000 to just under 350,000. This type of injury is more common in men than in women with men representing approximately four of every five cases. The average age at the time of SCI has increased over time from 29 years to 42 years.
Auto accidents are the most common incidents causing spinal cord injuries, but criminal violence, sports and falls are also significant contributors to the SCI population. Such an injury can result in serious medical needs, including extensive hospital and rehabilitation stays. However, average hospital stays are now half as long as they were at the time the database was initiated. Average rehabilitation stays have dropped by nearly 66 percent.
SCI can result in a reduction in life expectancy, especially in the most severe cases. Death caused by respiratory conditions in such patients has declined slightly, and septicemia has remained steady in the number of deaths caused in SCI patients. An individual dealing with any level of neurological loss could face major career changes based on the physical inability to return to a former profession. An individual suffering such changes because of the negligent behavior of another party might find legal action important for managing the financial challenges related to their condition.