Research has discovered three people a week, on average, sustain a life-changing spinal cord injury (SCI) in Ireland, the result of either accidental injury or degenerative disease.
The most common cause of traumatic injury is falls (55%) with partial paralysis the most common outcome.
Road crashes were the cause of almost one-in-five traumatic SCIs, with participation in sport the reason for more than one-in-10.
The research by Éimear Smith, consultant in rehabilitation medicine at the Mater Hospital and the National Rehabilitation Hospital, included for the first time in Ireland a study of non-traumatic SCI.
Non-traumatic injury occurs as a result of degenerative spinal diseases or secondary cancers affecting the spinal cord.
The incident rate of non-traumatic SCIs in 2017 was 26.7 per million population, more than double that of traumatic SCIs in any year between 2010-2016. Males account for the majority of traumatic SCIs, 72.1%.
The research forms the basis of a new strategic plan for Spinal Injuries Ireland (SII) which provides one-on-one support to people following spinal cord injury.
CEO Fiona Bolger said the findings indicate the number of service users will increase from the current level of 2100 to 3600 by 2023, putting huge pressure on the organisation.
SII receives 40% of its operational funding from the State but Ms Bolger said they still have to fundraise over €600,000 annually just to stand still.