Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function such as mobility or feeling. Frequent causes of damage are trauma (car accidents, gunshots, falls, etc.) or disease (polio, spina bifida, Friedreich's Ataxia, etc.). The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order for a loss of functioning to occur. In fact, for most people with SCI, the spinal cord is intact, but the damage to it results in loss of functioning. Almost 11,000 people in the U.S. sustain a traumatic spinal cord injury each year, resulting in temporary or permanent sensory deficit, motor deficit, or bowel or bladder dysfunction. In this country, more than 250,000 people live with paralysis caused by SCI. More than half the people who sustain a SCI are between 16 and 30 years old. More males than females sustain this type of injury — the ratio is almost four to one. The most common cause of SCI is motor vehicle crashes, accounting for at least 46 percent of these injuries. Falls are the second most common cause of SCI, and they are the leading cause of SCI among people over 65 years old. Violence-related SCIs have been decreasing over the past few years, and since 2000 violence is associated with 14 percent of SCI cases.


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