Economic Burden


Lead Author(s): 

Jonathan S. Kirschner, MD, RMSK
Se Won Lee, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Mean hospital charges in 2013 for hospital stays with a diagnosis of spinal cord injury or disease were $80,700, with a mean stay of just over 8 days. Total hospital charges in 2013 were $25.7 million. Due to the severity of spinal cord injuries and diseases, this is only a small part of overall health care costs that usually last a lifetime. (Reference Table 6B.2.1 PDF CSV and Table 6B.2.2 PDF CSV)

The average expense for the first year of injury in 2015 dollars, including health care costs and living expenses, ranges from $347,900 for the lowest level of injury to $1.1 million for a high tetraplegia. Average yearly expenses for each subsequent year of survival range from $42,300 to $185,100.  These costs do not include indirect costs such as lost wages, fringe benefits, and productivity, which were estimated to be over $72,000 per year.1 In addition, there is significant economic and emotional burden to spouses and other family members.


  • Fourth Edition

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