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What does a spinal cord injury cost you?

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2020 | Injuries |

Catastrophic spinal cord injuries are physical impairments that impact anything from minor nerve damage to full paralysis. Your full recovery is not guaranteed, and any permanent damage leaves you to rehabilitate your life around the new disability. All of this comes with hospital and physical therapy costs that can outpace your ability to afford.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center breaks down the average cost of first-year recovery and subsequent year upkeep depending on the type of SCI.

Motor function of any kind

Partial vertebrae and nerve damage can lead to numbness or tingling that hampers your motor control. These injuries, in the first year, average out to a medical cost over $350,000, whereas subsequent years cost over $40,000.


Lower spinal injuries may leave you paralyzed from the waist down, necessitating long hours of surgery, physical therapy and often both. Estimations put the average cost for first-year medical treatment around $550,000 with subsequent years costing just under $75,000.


Tetraplegia refers to the partial or full paralysis of all four limbs. The C1-C8 vertebrae present the highest risk of tetraplegia and the medical costs for recovery and care depend on how high up on the spine the SCI is:

  • Low tetraplegia (C5-C8)
    • First-year costs average over $800,000
    • Subsequent years average over $120,000
  • High tetraplegia (C1-C4)
    • First-year costs average over $1.1 million
    • Subsequent years average under $200,000

None of these averages take into account wages lost from a lack of work or productivity. The party whose negligence causes the accident may potentially owe compensation for any loss resulting from an SCI.