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Living with a spinal cord injury

At Hildebrand McLeod & Nelson LLP, we understand that damages from catastrophic injuries in California go far beyond medical expenses. If you suffer a spinal cord injury and lose the use of your legs, for example, it has the potential to change everything about your life permanently.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, your spinal cord injury may not kill you, but it may trigger the illness that does. Unfortunately, the life expectancy decreases significantly for people with spinal cord damage. For example, people who are not injured may expect to live well into their 70s, on average. However, if your injury causes paraplegia, your life expectancy may decrease nearly 15 years. People who must use a ventilator are unlikely to reach their 40s. 

What are the most common causes of death for those with spinal cord injuries? In the past, some of the most common fatal health issues included heart disease, cancer, stroke, urinary diseases and suicide. While these have declined, pneumonia and septicemia have remained at the top of the list since 1973, when the National SCI Database began collecting data. Since then, mortality rates have increased in the following areas:

  • Metabolic diseases
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Mental health disorders
  • Accidents
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Nervous system diseases

During the year after the injury, approximately 30 percent of victims must be hospitalized again at least once, and the most common causes are genitourinary diseases and skin diseases. People are also frequently re-hospitalized for circulation, digestive and respiratory problems, as well as musculoskeletal diseases. The average hospital stay is about 22 days. As a paraplegic, you could expect your medical expenses to top $500,000 the first year. 

Information regarding legal matters a spinal cord injury victim may encounter is available on our web page.

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