Spinal cord injuries in America are a serious issue many people deal with on a regular basis. Approximately 276,000 Americans are suffering permanent consequences of spinal cord injury (SCI), 45 percent of which are numb everywhere below the body area. About half of all sufferers have no functional or intact limbs. This is a rapidly growing epidemic, with 12,500 new cases per year and individual wage losses of 136 percent of the average person’s income.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact about this epidemic is how it usually happens. About 13 in 20 SCI sufferers get into their incidents simply going about normal travel, on foot or by vehicle. So most of the time, it’s not intense physical activity that puts someone into this kind of situation. They don’t have to do much to get injured; someone else or something unusual leads them to it. The most common victims are, apparently, the most innocent.

Chicago is among 14 U.S. cities currently receiving federal grants to do investigative research of SCI so doctors everywhere can discover more details about how the spine functions along with the bodily substances and everything around it. The facilities in this research program also do extensive work directly with local SCI patients to guide them through recovery (if possible), planning for future physical navigation, and acknowledging how the condition can make it extremely complicated for someone to provide and care for themselves.

It’s not just physically complicating though; it can be a huge financial burden, depending on the severity of one’s injury. You could sue, but you want to be sure it’s their fault; intense movement or unhealthy habits you did leading up to the incident could work against you. It may not be just or adequate for an argument, but there’s a good chance the defendant will justify their claim of innocence by stating you did something to maximize the probability of your own pain.