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Spinal cord injuries are often the result of serious motor vehicle accidents between cars and big-rigs, vehicles and bicyclists, or vehicles and pedestrians. Regardless of how a spinal cord injury occurs, it can cost the victim and his or her family hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in treatment, care and lost wages each year.

Spinal cord injuries fall into one of four categories. The most severe of those categories include two types of tetraplegia: complete and incomplete.

What is tetraplegia?

According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tetraplegia refers to paralysis that interferes with an injured person’s ability to voluntarily move the upper or lower parts of the body. Most people know this condition as “quadriplegia.” Though the affected areas may include the neck, head and shoulders, the most common include the hands, arms, legs, feet, chest, fingers and toes.

There are two forms of tetraplegia. The first is incomplete. What this means is that there is some evidence of remaining motor function, and there exist spared connections between the brain and a point below the level of injury. These connections play a vital role in recovery.

In complete tetraplegia, all the connections below the site of injury sustained damage. Therefore, people with complete tetraplegia will not have any remaining sensory or motor function below the level of injury.

How much does tetraplegia cost?

The cost of living with tetraplegia can be staggering. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the average yearly cost of tetraplegia for the first year is between $347,484 and $1,064, 716, depending on the level of tetraplegia person sustains. The estimated costs for each subsequent year are between $42,206 and $184,891. These estimated costs only include health care and living expenses, and not any indirect costs, such as lost wages, home services, fringe benefits and the like. The foundation estimates that indirect costs average approximately $72,000 each year.

Tetraplegia can adversely affect all aspects of a person’s life. Individuals — or families of individuals — who sustained tetraplegia in an accident could benefit from the guidance of an aggressive personal injury lawyer.