Spinal Cord Injury in Wisconsin

Resources for People with S.C.I.

United Spinal Association - Spinal Cord Resource Center

FacingDisability.com  - For Families Facing Spinal Cord Injuries

Facing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts.

Paralyzed Veterans of America Announced:

The Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine has published a new consumer guide, Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury: What You Should Know, which explores a range of topics related to sexuality and sexual function after spinal cord injury.

The consumer guide was developed with the belief that all people who want to be sexually active after SCI should have the knowledge they need to make that decision and be comfortable with their sex life whatever their level of injury. With straightforward facts and discussions of the wide range of topics affecting sexuality, the guide not only provides current medical information but can serve as a tool for making the conversation about sexuality after SCI easier to have.

What people with spinal cord injuries or their families should know about spinal cord injury and recovery. This new video series guides you and your family through important information to help maximize recovery.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

National Spinal Cord Injury Association

Welcome to the website for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Secondary Conditions in the Rehabilitation of Individual with Spinal Cord Injury (2009-2014).

We hope that this website will provide you with useful information and knowledge about how to prevent secondary conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and pressure ulcers after a spinal cord injury (SCI). We are also working hard to develop educational and training tools for both consumers and clinicians, and will make these products available on this website in the future. Our material will focus on the underserved and Spanish speaking populations.


Information about the incidence and cost of spinal cord injuries is being analyzed by the Wisconsin Coordinator of Resources for Persons with Physical Disabilities.

In 1995, the Medical College of Wisconsin received a five-year federal grant to become a Model Spinal Cord Injury Center. To accomplish the goals of the grant, Office for Persons with Physical Disabilities (OPPD) was subcontracted to gather and evaluate data about spinal cord injury (SCI). "Our goal," explains Coordinator Dan Johnson, "is to determine what events cause these injuries. With that information, we can develop effective prevention strategies and decide how best to finance health care and rehabilitation programs."

Information from an eight-year period— beginning in 1990 and ending in 1997—is being reviewed by SCI Analyst, Kimberly Schindler. "The data for the project," Ms. Schindler says, "was provided by the state Office of Health Care Information (OHCI). It’s available because hospitals in Wisconsin are required by law to report various statistics to OHCI."

Spinal Cord Injury Projects

ILRU is partnering with the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) on the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Spinal Cord Injury. We’re just getting started but already you can view materials on the project website: www.sci-health.org. You will find a brief video on “how to do pressure reliefs,” as well as our consumer fact sheets, which provide need-to-know information about selected secondary conditions such as osteoporosis and diabetes.

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Spinal Cord Injury is a five-year project (2009-2010), funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Its focus is the prevention and management of secondary conditions among individuals with SCI, particularly pressure sores, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

Who Sustains a Spinal Cord Injury?

Between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1997, 1502 Wisconsin residents were hospitalized for a spinal cord injury. Seventy-four percent of the injured individuals were male, and 26% were female.

People as young as two and as old as 96 sustained spinal cord injuries during this period. The average age at the time of injury was 41.7; the most frequent age at injury was 21. Thirty-five percent of all injuries occurred to people between the ages of 16 and 30. The next highest age group was 31 to 45, with 25% of all injuries.

What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

Based on the available information, the leading cause of spinal cord injury was accidental falls —accounting for 429, or 29%, of all injuries. Motor vehicle crashes caused 27%, or 411, spinal cord injuries.

When do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?

Fifty percent of all spinal cord injuries occurred during the weekend. Injuries were least likely on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The majority of spinal cord injuries occurred during the warmer months— May through October. July was the highest, followed by September. December had the lowest occurrence of injuries.

What is the Cost of Hospitalization?

The average inpatient hospitalization ranged from 35.2 days in 1990, to 26.9 days in 1997. The average stay for men was 35.6 days, compared to 30.3 days for women.

In 1990, the average cost for a hospital stay was $55,542. By 1997, the average cost had increased to $61,758. The average cost for a man’s stay was $68,201, compared to $56,372 for a woman’s.

"These figures," cautions Ms. Schindler, "do not reflect the total cost for spinal cord injuries. After hospitalization, there are considerable additional expenses for medical equipment, ongoing medical care, home and vehicle modifications, and attendant care."

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics

Spinal Cord Injury Project

Bureau on Aging and Disability Resources 
1 W. Wilson Street, Room 551
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Grant Information

This research was supported by grant H133N50024
of the Model Spinal Cord Injury System from the
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research,
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,
US Department of Education, Washington, DC.

Last Revised: July 11, 2017