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Researchers look at Ontario victims of spinal cord injuries

Medical researchers have learned more about injuries to the spinal cord in the last two decades than during any time previously. Advanced knowledge about diagnosis and treatment benefits patients who suffer SCI. Studies, including a report from the Urban Futures Institute, help define who is most vulnerable to these injuries and how they occur.

Anyone can experience temporary or permanent disability as the result of a spinal cord injury. Over 33,000 people in Ontario and 86,000 patients throughout Canada were suffering from spinal cord injuries in 2010. An estimated 600 new SCI cases are added annually in Ontario, with a total of 1,500 new cases nationwide.

Over 68 percent of all Ontario patients with spinal cord injuries are males. More than 85 percent of victims have either been injured during a fall or a car accident. Spinal cord injuries are most prevalent among Ontario residents in the 20- to 29-year-old age group and those over age 70.

Spinal cord trauma can have a long-lasting effect upon patients, the people in the victims' lives and the national economy. An SCI patient typically requires up to three years of treatment, including physical and psychosocial rehabilitation, to return to an independent state. Some spinal cord injuries have a life-long impact, including pain and limitations in agility or mobility limitations.

Families invest time, effort and financial support to help victims cope with SCI. Researchers estimated that costs to families, employers and communities caused by spinal cord injuries add up to about $3.6 billion every year. Half that amount is dedicated solely to medical expenses for SCI victims.

Victims and families may not have the resources to meet the challenges of a devastating spinal cord injury, including losses of income due to the injury of a primary wage earner. Lawyers can help victims and their loved ones locate sources of compensation and file legal claims when SCI are caused by someone else's negligence.

Source: Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, "Fast Facts," accessed Sep. 10, 2015

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