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Quick Stats

Some quick facts about Spinal Cord Injury

  • Each year, between 250,000 to 500,000 people acquire a spinal cord injury around the world. However, there is no reliable estimate of the total number of people living with spinal cord injuries, globally.
  • In Australia, the figure is somewhere between 300 and 400 people per year.
  • The figure for Victoria is between 60 – 80 newly injured people each year.
  • Currently, in Australia, between 9,000 and 12,000 people are living with spinal cord injury.
    • Of these, approximately 2,000 people live in Victoria.
  • Accidents are the most common; causing for 4 out of every 5 injuries.
  • Traffic accidents account for 2 out of every 5 accident-related injuries.
    • Roughly half of these are people in vehicles such as drivers and passengers of cars, trucks, etc.
    • The rest are mainly other road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Falls are the second most common cause, accounting for another 1 out of 5 accident related injuries.
    • Two-thirds of these are falls from a height of a metre or more and the rest are low falls – from less than a metre height or falls on level ground.
  • Water related accidents such as diving into shallow water, surfing and swimming accidents are another common cause, accounting for about ten percent of accident related spinal cord injuries.
  • Spinal cord Injury can also occur due to medical reasons such as tumors, bleeding into the spinal canal and some infections.
  • Typically more males than females experience spinal cord injuries (around 5 males to 1 female)
  • The most common injury level is C4 (nearly 1 in 5 of all injuries), followed by C5, C3, T4 and L1.

Further Information / reading

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO), together with the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCOS) recently published a comprehensive report called “ International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injuries ” which gives a global picture of spinal cord injuries across the world, the issues and challenges as well as recommendations for the best way forward in addressing issues around spinal cord injuries. More information on this, as well as the full report, can be found online at www.who.int/disabilities/policies/spinal_cord_injury/en/.
  • The Australian Spinal Cord Injury Registry (ASCIR) collects and compiles information on spinal cord injuries occurring across Australia. They recently published a report titled “ Spinal Cord Injury in Australia 2007-2008 ” which presents the best available national statistics of spinal cord injury in Australia; the frequency and types of occurrence categorized according to age groups, gender, cause of injury, etc. The full report is available here on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.
  • The Victorian State Trauma Registry gathers and collates data on general accident related injuries, including those resulting in spinal cord injuries. Each year, it publishes a summary report of statistics for the previous year. In 2013, it compiled a focus report on Spinal cord Injury in Victoria, which provides information an accident- related spinal cord injury in Victoria in the period 2007 – 2012. This report is available for download at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/acute-care/state-trauma-system/about-vsts.

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