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Thread: Cost of Spinal Cord Injury - How much is a cure worth?

  1. #1

    Cost of Spinal Cord Injury - How much is a cure worth?
    The High Cost of Spinal Cord Injuries

    Only 52% of SCI individuals are covered by private health insurance at time of injury. The average hospital stay immediately after the injury is 15 days, at a price of $140,000. This is followed by an average of 44 days in a rehabilitation unit.

    Average Yearly Expenses for medical care and living expenses

    Severity of Injuryテつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ* テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*First Yearテつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*Each Subsequent Year
    High Tetraplegia (C1-C4)テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ *テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$572,178テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テ つ*テつ*テつ*$102,491
    Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8)テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ *テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$369,488テつ*テつ*テつ*テ つ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$41,983
    Paraplegiaテつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ* テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テ ツ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$209,074テつ* テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$21,274
    Incomplete Motor Functional at any Levelテつ*テつ*$168,627テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$ 11,817

    Estimated Lifetime Costs by Age at Injury for costs directly associated with SCI

    Severity of Injury テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テ ツ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*25 Years Old テつ*テつ*50 Years Old
    High Tetraplegia (C1-C4)テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ *テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$2,185,667テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ *$1,286,714
    Low Tetraplegia (C5-C8)テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ *テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$1,235,841テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ *テつ*テつ*テつ*$782,628
    Paraplegiaテつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ* テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テ ツ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$730,277 テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*テつ*$498,095
    Incomplete Motor Functional at any Level $487,150 $353,047

    These figures do not include any indirect costs such as losses in wages, fringe benefits and productivity. Eight years after the injury, 63% of SCI individuals are unemployed.

    Source: The University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center

  2. #2
    Senior Member giambjj's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Auburn, AL,USA


    I think those expense figures are too low and outdated!

  3. #3
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    beaumont tx usa
    yeah dr young, add a zero behind each number in you post.

  4. #4
    Actually, I thought that these numbers hew pretty close to widely accepted numbers. Where have you seen higher numbers. For example, this site (admittedly a lawyer's site, but one would imagine that a lawyer would want to see higher numbers) has lower cost figures. What the figures do not include is of course lost wages and productivity.

    The estimates are not that far from most detailed study of the costs of spinal cord injury by Monroe Berkowitz
    Spinal Cord Injury: An Analysis of Medical and Social Costs
    Monroe Berkowitz, Ph.D.
    Paul K. O'Leary
    Douglas L. Kruse
    Carol Harvey, Ph.D.

    "...explores in great detail the elements that make up the costs of SCI, focusing specifically on the expenses of home modifications, vehicle adaptations, and wheelchairs." -- Paraplegia News

    "..a detailed and readable analysis of the economic costs of SCI." -- Doody's Journal

    Spinal cord injury has devastating consequences for the person involved. An initial period of hospitalization is followed by a period of readjustment and rehabilitation in which the person with SCI must learn a new way of life. These changes have a cost that is borne by the person involved, their families and friends, and society at large.

    * SCI costs the nation more than $9.73 billion per year.
    * Each newly injured person with SCI incurs total first year costs that average $2.367 billion.
    * Annual SCI-related medical care costs average $1.624 billion per year.
    * Medications and supplies cost $449 million annually for those beyond their first year post-injury.
    * The average cost of personal assistance is estimated to be $2.068 billion for those who are beyond the first year post-injury.

    These are the obvious direct costs that must be borne by persons with SCI or by someone on their behalf. When viewed from a societal point of view, SCI also imposes huge indirect costs. Such costs do not arise from anyone's purchase of goods or services but from the losses that come about as persons with SCI are forced to stop work or to reduce their productive activities. Taking these costs into account the authors estimate that:

    * Losses of productivity, the indirect costs of SCI, are approximately $2.591 billion nationwide.
    * Over the course of the post-injury lifetime, a person with SCI can expect to expend anywhere from $292,800 to $880,700 for injury-related costs, and to lose anywhere from $296,800 to $440,100 in lifetime earnings because of the injury.
    Data are needed on the details of these costs to provide guidelines for the allocation of funds to improve the quality of care post-injury and to ease the transition to work. The development of new technologies and improvement in the scope and timing of interventions requires both technical expertise and a realistic measure of their economic feasibility. The attempt to identify and quantify the costs of SCI is a step in the direction of supplying such information.

    This volume expands and updates information previously presented in 'The Economic Consequences of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury,' reporting results from a new survey of the costs of spinal cord injury (SCI). It explores in detail the elements that make up both the medical and the nonmedical direct costs of SCI, focusing specifically on the costs of home modifications, vehicle adaptations, and wheelchairs. It also focuses on the determinants of employment for persons with this traumatic condition.

    The population sample was obtained by using lists supplied by hospitals that are members of the Spinal Cord Model Systems, together with names from the membership list of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

  5. #5
    Senior Member TD's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    the estimated Costs of Paraplegia at 50 is really low on that website. Decent health insurance alone is over $3000 per year and that is with a high deductible. Housing costs, transportation, etc. does not seem to be factored in properly. These attorneys need to talk to the SCI not to the OTs, PTs, and medical personnel.

    "And so it begins."

  6. #6

    How depressing.

    I always wanted know how much of a drain I was on the national economy.

    (C3/4 since age 21)

  7. #7
    Senior Member mk99's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    toronto, canada
    Some time ago I wrote to every business paper that I know of asking them to write about a Business Case for focusing on curing SCI. There was nothing in my idea about human suffering, etc. Simply a #'s game. I provided them with some data and links.

    Unfortunately none of them have done anything on it.

    If we really spend $100billion/year on Care and about 1% of that on Cure, the cost savings of having a more effective "cure" could be substantial. Imagine spending $1 billion NOW to achieve substantial functional recovery in all SCI. Not 100% recovery but enough to allow more people to live at home and work... walkers not wheelchairs. I think this $1 billion spent now could probably slash annual care costs by $50 billion per year FOREVER. It's a no-brainer that's for sure.

  8. #8
    mkowalski, the number is not $100 billion. Care costs, including indirect costs due to lost wages and caretaker costs, is probably in the range of $10-$12 billion. The total investment in spinal cord injury research is on the order of $100 million at the present. So, it is about 1% of cost and spending $1 billion would be about 10% of cost.

    You are right, however, that even with one less zero, it is a no-brainer. That little factoid either has not entered the brains of our leaders or they have none. There is no question that the United States does have the money. The government came up with $20 billion for New York in less than 3 months. The probably spent more than that in Afghanistan already. Where there is the will, there is a way. I am not convinced that the will is there.


  9. #9
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Argao, Cebu, Philippines

    That's the point

    SCI might not be the deadliest. It might not represent a huge portion of the population directly. But it sure is damn expensive. Cure research and trials make a whole lot of sense economically.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

  10. #10
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Montreal,Province of Quebec, CANADA

    Whitewater Death Inspires Students To Create Safer Helmet

    Whitewater Death Inspires Students To Create Safer Helmet

    With support from a grieving father and injury prevention researchers, two Johns Hopkins engineering students have designed and fabricated a new whitewater recreation helmet to better protect rafters and kayakers from life-threatening head injuries. The prototype and specifications will be patented by a nonprofit foundation that plans to mass-produce and sell the headgear at cost. Injury prevention experts also hope the project will bolster efforts to adopt stronger safety standards for whitewater helmets, similar to those in place for bicycle helmets and other sports gear.
    The issue was brought to the attention of Johns Hopkins by Gil Turner, a Park City, Utah, resident whose 22-year-old son, Lucas Brandon Turner, died in 1998 while kayaking on the Payette River in Idaho. "He was an expert whitewater kayaker, but somehow he was thrown into the river," Turner said. "The force of the water pushed him head-first into a large boulder. He would have survived if his helmet had stayed in place, but it slipped backward and exposed his forehead. He sustained a fatal blow to the center of his forehead." The incident led Turner, a retired businessman, to found the Whitewater Research and Safety Institute, which co-funded the safer helmet development project with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    The job of designing and fabricating the whitewater helmet was handed to two seniors enrolled in the Department of Mechanical Engineering's Senior Design Project course: Michael Cordeiro, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering major from Easton, Md., and Chang Lee, 22, of Atlanta, who was completing a dual major in biomedical engineering and engineering mechanics.

    The undergraduates were asked to study head injuries that occurred in whitewater sports and to design a helmet that would better absorb shocks and prevent injuries. The helmet had to be lightweight (less than 30 ounces), buoyant in water and durable enough to survive repeated collisions with hard objects. It required straps that would hold the helmet in place even in fast-moving water. It had to cost less than $30 per helmet to manufacture and be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing enough to appeal to whitewater enthusiasts.

    The year-long project concluded this month when Cordeiro and Lee unveiled a prototype helmet and subjected it to several tests designed to replicate whitewater conditions. The undergraduates attached the helmet to a dummy head, marked its position, then blasted it with a high-pressure fire hose that unleashed water moving at about 30 mph. The straps held the helmet firmly in place, indicating it should continue to protect a wearer's head, even in a fast-moving river. The students also assembled an impact-test apparatus to mimic a high-speed collision between the helmet and a rock. Their test indicated the prototype helmet should absorb enough energy to prevent a serious head injury.

    Much of the helmet's protective power comes from three layers of EVA foam installed inside the shell. Each layer consists of a different density of closed-cell material, which will not absorb water if the wearer falls into a stream. The shell is made of rugged ABS plastic. Plastic head coverings are usually produced through an expensive molding process. But Cordeiro and Lee dramatically reduced the cost of their prototype helmet by using a high-tech rapid prototyping machine, which applies the plastic in a computer-guided shape through a process that resembles three-dimensional ink-jet printing. Ultimately, they spent only $5,400 to design, fabricate and test their prototype helmet.

    "It was really rewarding to see it come together," said Lee. "We got what we were looking for, what we were designing for." Added Cordeiro: "This was a research project where we actually got to see something important come out of it - a product that could save people's lives."

    Currently no industry nor government safety standards exist for whitewater helmets in the United States, said Michael Ho, a Center for Injury Research and Policy staff member who monitored the students' efforts. "Our center co-sponsored this project because we wanted to show that it is possible to design and construct a helmet for whitewater use that adhered to standards that we asked the students to develop through their research," Ho said. "The statistics related to whitewater injuries are unreliable, but we do know that among the fatal cases, the mechanism of death tends to be a combination of impact to the head and drowning. The whitewater industry and the people who enjoy these sports need to begin talking about standards for a helmet that could do a better job of preventing such injuries."

    The safer whitewater helmet was one of 11 Johns Hopkins projects completed this year by undergraduates in the Senior Design Project course. The class is taught by Andrew F. Conn, a Johns Hopkins graduate with more than 30 years of experience in public and private research and development. Each team of two or three students, working within budgets of up to $10,000, had to design a device, purchase or fabricate the parts, and assemble the final product. Corporations, government agencies and nonprofit groups provided the assignments and funding. The course is traditionally a well-received hands-on engineering experience for Johns Hopkins undergraduates.

    Editor's Note: The original news release can be found at


    Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Johns Hopkins University for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to quote from any part of this story, please credit Johns Hopkins University as the original source. You may also wish to include the following link in any citation:

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