A spinal cord injury is any injury that damages the spinal cord, the complex bundle of nerves that runs through the spinal bones or vertebrae. The spinal cord may be damaged when the vertebrae are broken or dislocated, causing them to cut or push against the spinal cord. In severe cases, the spinal cord may be severed completely.
Approximately 12,000 people suffer a non-fatal spinal cord injury in the U.S. each year, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. About 262,000 people in the U.S. live with a spinal cord injury.
Currently, the average age of a spinal cord injury patient is 40.7 years. Men are more likely than women to suffer a spinal cord injury; each year, about 80% of new spinal cord injuries happen to men. However, any serious trauma or injury to the body may result in a spinal cord injury, especially if the trauma results in a broken back or head injury.