The CDC, along with other researchers, conducted one of the largest studies regarding facts and statistics on paralysis in the US ever recorded. Some of the things that they discovered are truly shocking and show how much more prevalent paralysis is than most people think. Surveying more than 70,000 households across the US, this study gives us figures that represent a cross-section of the country as a whole. Here are some shocking and important takeaways from the research.
- 1.7% of Americans are dealing with some degree of paralysis – If you felt alone in your struggle, know that there are more than 5.3 million people in the US who are unable to move one or more of their extremities due to a central nervous system (CNS) disorder.
- The three most common causes of paralysis are stroke, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis. Over one-third of paralysis patients are stroke survivors. A little over one quarter are spinal cord injury survivors. Over 18% have multiple sclerosis. These three categories make up roughly four-fifths of paralysis patients in the nation. Cerebral palsy and other causes make up the last fifth.
- The household income of a paralysis patient is less than households where no one suffers from paralysis. More than one-quarter of paralysis patient households have less than $15,000 in annual income.
- While 63.1% of able-bodied people are employed, this figure drops to 15.5% for people living with paralysis.
- 41.8% of people living with paralysis say that they are too disabled to work.
- Spinal cord injuries cost approximately $40.5 billion per year, placing a huge expense on the health care system because paralysis sufferers are often unable to obtain affordable health coverage.
- More than 50 million people in the US are serving as caregivers for friends or family who cannot afford professional caregivers. The estimated value of this care is $306 billion, nearly double the $158 billion that is spent each year on nursing home services and home care each year.
- The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accident and physical labor, which together comprise nearly half of the causes. Other common causes of spinal cord injuries include falls, sports injuries, and violent assaults or shootings.
Let’s discuss what some of these shocking facts and statistics on paralysis in the US mean.
Paralysis in the US – What the Numbers Mean
Of course, all of these statistics are mere numbers unless we discuss what they mean. With that in mind, here are three big takeaways from the study.
- You are not alone – The mental impact of paralysis can sometimes be the most difficult to deal with. You need to grieve for your loss and come to accept your new circumstances. Having a sense of community can go a long way toward making that process easier. That’s one of the reasons that Thriving with Paralysis has come into existence. It’s a safe place for millions of people living with paralysis in the US, and millions more around the world, to come together and see that you are not alone. And while your circumstances may be unique, there are many who are dealing with similar things and who can understand what you are going through.
- You may be able to find a new source of income – Consider our founder, Dr. Bill Davis. He was no longer able to practice as an upper cervical chiropractor after his spinal cord injury, but he has not allowed that to keep him out of the workplace. He just moved that workplace into his home and has formed a successful online business to provide for his family. Can you take advantage of the technology age to increase your household income? While you may not be able to work in a traditional job, many companies now look for remote workers to save on expensive office space. You can use this trend to your advantage.
- Caregivers need care too – If you are providing care for a family member or friend who is living with paralysis, that is a praiseworthy thing. Many only do what you do if they can get paid for it. You do it out of love. But you need to take time for yourself as well so that resentment doesn’t breed underneath the surface. Thriving with Paralysis is also a place for spouses and caregivers to gather to learn about the self-care you need in order to help your loved one and maintain your own health and mental state. You are certainly not alone either and learning how others in your situation have coped and helped their family to continue thriving can be inspirational.
You Can Thrive with Paralysis
Yes, the figures are shocking. But once you get past the shock, these facts and statistics can actually give way to a hopeful outlook. You know what you are up against. You know that you are not alone. And you know that there are already families that are thriving despite paralysis. This is a safe place for you to come and gather information and use resources that are available to persons living with paralysis, their spouses, and any other friends or family members who may be caregivers.
A shared experience is enough to create a sense of community, and that can turn a negative into a positive. Because now we can all share how we are surviving and benefit from one another’s advice and experience.
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