The United States, which has one of the highest incidences of Spinal Cord Injury, reports horrifying figures that show us that between 7 and 8 people every day suffer a life altering Spinal Cord Injury due to 40 new cases being reported per million of population annually.
Data from the rest of the world thankfully is consistently lower than this but still runs at just less than 20 new cases per million of population per year. In New Zealand we have 1 new Spinal Cord Injury every 5 days. Much of the difference in incidence rates between the rest of the world and the USA is due to a significantly higher incidence of violence related SCI.
This has a huge ongoing annual cost to not only the individual and their support, but their Governments with a new report by Access Economics, and commissioned by the Victorian Neurotrauma Initiative, shows the total cost of Spinal Cord Injuries in Australia is estimated to be $2 billion annually.
American statistics indicate the average age at Spinal Cord Injury is 26.4%, while they have an 80/20 male/female gender bias.
While there have been shifts in the underlying causes of Spinal Cord Injury since the 1980’s, the overall incidence has remained relatively constant. Data from around 10 years ago in the USA indicate the following with respect to cause of Spinal Cord Injury:
|Motor Vehicle Accidents||38.6%|
In the USA, Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA’s) have a lower percentage of cases among men as compared with women. In the females, MVA’s account for 50% of Spinal Cord Injuries.
A greater proportion of men suffer from Spinal Cord Injuries due to violence and sports related injuries. Of sports injuries, over 50% are diving related injuries.
MVA’s are the leading cause of Spinal Cord Injury until around age 45, but falls represent the leading cause in those between 45 – 60 years.
Unpublished data from a recent study conducted at Burwood Spinal Unit indicate the following with respect to cause of Spinal Cord Injury in New Zealand :
|Motor Vehicle Accidents||38.9%|
|Sport and Recreation||24.0%|
|Accidents in the home (usually falls)||5.7%|
|Accidents in the workplace (usually falls or motor vehicle accidents)||14.5%|
‘Other’ consisted largely of medical misadventure or mishap such as complications of surgical procedures.
New Zealand data also indicates differences in cause with respect to gender. In particular, men appear to have a significantly greater proportion of work related accidents, and women a higher proportion of medical illness causing SCI. There are also slightly more accidents in Sport and Recreation in Men compared with Women.
|Cause||Male Percentage||Female Percentage|
|Motor Vehicle Accidents||39.3%||37.7%|
|Sport and Recreation||25.9%||18.0%|
Data from Australia indicates an average age of 19 when injured. 68% of injured Australians are male and 32% female. 55% are between the ages of 15 and 44 years old.