Spinal cord injuries may bring to mind catastrophic car accidents involving high speeds for all parties. But the relatively lower speed of bicycling does not preclude the risk of them.
According to a 2018 study by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cycling was the most common cause of cervical fractures in males in regards to sports-related neck injury. These fractures may cause a decrease in a cyclist’s limbs or body and, if serious enough, result in paralysis.
If it is a serious SCI, a cyclist may suffer a range of outcomes:
- Motor function loss at any level
- Paraplegia (the partial or full paralysis of the lower body)
- Low tetraplegia (the partial or full paralysis of the whole body)
- High tetraplegia (same as low, but with a greater risk of greater effects through the body)
These types of injuries may require surgery, physical therapy or long-term tools to adjust to a cyclist’s new lifestyle. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the average yearly costs of an SCI vary considerably depending on the severity.
Initial year costs represent a lot of that surgery and physical therapy. The cost of motor function loss averages over $375,000 while high tetraplegia ranges just below $1.15 million.
Subsequent years include further checkups and maintenance costs like disability access. These average costs range between $45,000 and nearly $200,000.
Medical science has yet to devise a cure for SCIs. Cyclists that find themselves in a bad accident with a motor vehicle or otherwise may have a lot of costs ahead of them along with a lifetime of rehabilitation.