Incidence: It is estimated that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) leading to tetraplegia, not including those who die at the scene of the accident, is approximately 20 cases per million population in the U. S., or approximately 5,000 new cases each year.

Prevalence: The number of people in the United States who are alive today and who have SCI has been estimated to be between 360 and 453 per million population. This corresponds to between 92,000 and 115,000 persons.

Age at injury: SCI primarily affects young adults. Fifty-five percent of SCIs occur among persons in the 16 to 30 year age group, and the average age at injury is 31.8 years.

Occupational status: More than half (60.5%) of those persons with SCI admitted to a Model System reported being employed at the time of their injury. By post-injury year 10, 24.3% of those with tetraplegia are employed during the same year.

Residence: Today 91.3% of all persons with SCI (including both paraplegia and tetraplegia) who are discharged alive from the system are sent to a private, noninstitutional residence (in most cases their homes before injury.) Only 4.8% are discharged to nursing homes. The remaining are discharged to hospitals, group living situations or other destinations.

Source: The National Spinal Cord Injury Database has been in existence since 1973 and contains information on more than 19,648 persons who sustained traumatic spinal cord injuries.

Learn More

Find out more about SCI/Neurological disorders from the NINDS (National Insitute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) website:

Find more about ALS with the ALS Fact Sheet.