TABLE 1-5 Comparison of the Extent and Costs of Selected Neurological Conditions

Injury or Disease

Estimated Current Prevalence in the U.S. (number of cases)

Estimated Annual Incidence in the U.S. (number of new cases per year)

Estimated Annual Cost to Society, $ billions (year used as base estimate)a

Spinal cord injury



9.7 (1996)

Multiple sclerosis







12.5 (1995)

Parkinson’s disease




Alzheimer’s disease



100.0 (1991)





aThe cost estimates were calculated by a variety of methods and with various years as their basis. Most of the estimates include direct and indirect costs. Where available the year used as the basis for the estimate is included in parentheses.

bThis number is based on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimate that 200 individuals are diagnosed each week with multiple sclerosis.

cIn any given year, 500,000 are first attacks and 200,000 are recurrent attacks.

SOURCES: Ernst and Hay, 1994; Berkowitz et al., 1998; Begley et al., 2000; Hebert et al., 2001, 2003; National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2004; NINDS, 2004; NSCISC, 2004; American Heart Association, 2005.

half of those age 85 and older may have the disease (Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral Center, 2004). The average age for those who suffer spinal cord injuries (28.6 years) is similar to that of individuals who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or who suffer a brain trauma.

These economic costs are only a hint of the enormously devastating physical, social, and emotional burdens that individuals and their families face after a spinal cord injury. To have limited or no ability to walk, pick up a coffee cup, or write with a pencil or pen and to face daily routines that take many times longer than before the injury are a fraction of the hardships and challenges that individuals living with spinal cord injuries continually encounter. With tenacity, creativity, and compassion, these challenges have been and continue to be overcome by individuals living with spinal cord injuries and their families. Furthermore, a number of

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