Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are among the most expensive types of personal injuries that someone can sustain. In fact, the average yearly expenses for someone with high tetraplegia (quadriplegia) SCI is more than $1.07 million and more than $187,000 each year after that.
In addition to the initial costs of your injury — weeks (or months) of hospitalization, ambulance transportation, surgery (or surgeries) — you also likely will have the long-term care requirements and costs, including:
- Physical, occupational, and activity-based therapies;
- Prescriptions and other medical-related costs, such as a ventilator and catheter;
- A personal care assistant (PCA);
- Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, standing frames, and braces and orthoses;
- Accessibility home modifications; and
- Vehicle accessibility modification device to outfit your existing vehicle (or purchasing an entirely new vehicle).
These mounting costs are on top of the lack of income you have after realizing that your injury prevents you from working at your previous job.
Pros and Cons of Different Funding Options
When faced with these growing bills, many spinal cord injury survivors and their families seek out additional funding to help cover some of the costs. Some people turn to friends or other family members. Others may seek out official loans or grants.
Each of these financial options has advantages and disadvantages. Yes, family and friends often times will want to help you with your situation. However, finances are a tricky thing and borrowing large amounts of money can put a strain on your relationship with loved ones. It’s better to try to keep finances out of the situation and instead rely on them for love, emotional support, and encouragement.
Taking out a loan (or loans) to cover your medical costs run a lot of risks, puts you in significant debt, can severely impact your credit, and will eventually need to be repaid (with interest).
Grants, on the other hand, don’t need to be repaid. These types of funding are available from private, government, and nonprofit organizations and can provide assistance in supporting and funding specific needs. For instance, some SCI grants can cover general living and care costs, medical bills, and provide educational funding to help you return to school.
Spinal Cord Injury Grants
Thousands of spinal cord injury grants are available from thousands of organizations. To find new and repeating grants, it’s important to do some research to see what programs and grants are out there for which you may be eligible.
Some great organizations and websites for finding spinal cord injury resources and grants include:
- Grants.gov — This searchable tool enables you to search for government-backed grants.
- Help Hope Live — This resource offers information on how to seek grants for spinal cord injury-related expenses and accessibility home modifications.
- The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation — The foundation offers grants and provides updates on new financial assistance programs in the SCI community as they are created.
- Spinal Cord Opportunities for Rehabilitation Endowment (SCORE) — SCORE offers grants to alleviate SCI-related financial hurdles. Preference is given to young people injured during athletic activities.
- The American Medical Association (AMA) — The AMA sponsors healthy living grant programs for those who want to educate others about spinal cord injuries, services, or general health and wellness. However, it’s important to note that these grants won't cover medical expenses.
- 180 Medical Scholarship — This organization provides grants and scholarships to SCI survivors who wish to pursue a degree.
- Travis Roy Foundation — The foundation offers quality-of-life grants for specific endeavors, such as upgrading a wheelchair or installing an elevator in your home.
Be sure to ask your doctor as well for any recommendations, as they may be aware of any local organizations that may offer spinal cord injury grants. Additional spinal cord injury grant-related resources are available on our Spinal Cord Injury Grants web page.
Deciding to Pursue a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Another way that some spinal cord injury survivors receive funding for their injuries is through a personal injury lawsuit or settlement. If you or your loved one were injured due to the actions or inactions of another person or organization, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for any resulting injuries.
An experienced and knowledgeable spinal cord injury lawyer will be your strongest ally and advocate in the legal system. Just be sure to choose the right lawyer to represent your case and to help you seek justice and compensation for your injuries.
Written by Spinal Cord TeamSpinalCord.com has been created as a resource for patients of spinal cord injuries and their families. Find everything you need to learn more about your injury, locate a doctor or treatment center, or discover financial relief to support you through this difficult time.
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