Spinal cord injuries from trauma, disease or degenerative disorders newly affect roughly 17,700 people in the U.S. each year, according to United Spinal Association, a national organization dedicated to advocacy, empowerment and independence for people with spinal cord injuries or disorders. Of those, approximately 78% are men with an average age of 43. Vehicle accidents and falls are the most common causes of injuries at 39% and 32%, respectively.
Depending on where they impact the spine, spinal cord injuries can cause major motor impairments, including quadriplegia or paraplegia, as well as loss of organ function. United Spinal Association explains that injuries to the upper cervical region can cause loss of respiratory, arm, leg, bowel, bladder and sexual function. Those with injuries to the thoracic and lower regions (lumbar and sacral) may still be able to use their arms and hands.