What is the Life Expectancy after a Spinal Cord Injury?

Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 22, 2014

spinal cord injuryNote: this is the first in our spinal cord injury blog series this week. Stay tuned in the coming days for posts about stem cell therapy, paraplegia, and spinal nerve regrowth.

Spinal cord injuries that damage the nerves can have a devastating impact on the injured patient, leading to partial or full paralysis. A common question patients with spinal cord injuries have is: “Will my life expectancy be reduced after a paralyzing spine injury?” This article will discuss how spine injuries impact life expectancy.

Spine Injuries & Life Expectancy

Life expectancy after an injury to the spine depends on the severity of the spinal cord injury. Some injuries to the spine only impact the vertebrae, discs, and muscles surrounding the spine. These types of injuries typically do not result in permanent paralysis. Spine injuries that involve nerve damage, on the other hand, often do involve some form of paralysis.

Paralysis is a life-changing event. Everyday activities become difficult or impossible. Many patients need assistance to accomplish the most basic tasks. Additionally, those with spinal cord injuries have a higher tendency to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol issues, and urinary disorders. These can all contribute to a lower life expectancy when compared to a patient with no spinal cord injury.

A Short History of Spine Injuries

That being said, a person who sustains a paralyzing spinal cord injury can still live a long and fulfilling life. The good news is that life expectancy for spinal cord injury patients has significantly increased over the past decades. Back in the 1940s, the life expectancy for a person with a spinal cord injury was an average of just over a year. Now, life expectancy is much better, hovering just below the average for the general population.

Spinal cord injuries can be debilitating, but there are great options out there to help patients live with these injuries. Contact a qualified spine specialist to talk about your options for treatment.

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