Pittsburgh residents probably know just from paying attention to the news that spinal cord injuries are very serious affairs.

What people might not fully realize is that these injuries can cost a person millions of dollars in medical bills and personal care expenses alone.

Additionally, if they are not able to return to work, they will lose on average about $72,000 a year in wages and other fringe benefits.

Severity of the injury

Although fewer than 1% of those with spinal cord injuries are lucky enough to escape with no long-term consequences, the extent of the injury will determine the cost.

For example, someone who suffers high tetraplegia, that is, an injury near the head, will incur over $1 million in bills during the first year of treatment and close to $185,000 in bills for every year of their lives thereafter.

Someone with high tetraplegia will be paralyzed from the neck down and may need help with even basic tasks like eating.

At the other end of the spectrum, someone who is still able to move after a spinal cord injury but may have some limitations in their motor function will require close to $347,500 in the first year of treatment and over $42,200 for every year thereafter.

To give some perspective, most people, about 2 out 3, suffer some sort of problems with motor function that falls short of full-blown paralysis. Of the remaining 34%, 20% of victims suffer paralysis from the waist down, while 14% are unable to move any of their limbs.

Age of the victim

The age of the victim at the time of the accident also determines how much a person will have to pay for an injury over his or her lifetime.

For instance, someone who suffers an injury that leaves the victim without limited motor function at the age of 25 will likely pay close to $1.6 million in expenses.  Someone who suffers the same injury at age 50 will pay closer to $1.1 million.

The differences get more dramatic when it comes to more severe injuries. For example, someone who suffers an injury that leaves them paralyzed from the armpits down will pay $2.1 million if the injury happens when they are 50, but they will pay closer to $3.5 million if the injury happens at age 25.

Unfortunately, many victims of spinal cord injuries are younger, with the average age of a victim being 42. Many spinal cord injuries happen when people are in engaging in activities that they enjoy.

Motor vehicle accidents cause close to 40% of spinal cord injuries, with sports-related injuries accounting for close to 10% of them. Assaults and other violence, which tends to affect younger people more often,  account for about 15% of spinal cord injuries.

The point is that those who suffer from a spinal cord injury are going to need both emotional support and financial help to recover. It is only fair to ask that those responsible for the injury pay the costs.