SCI statistics

How many people in Australia have SCI?

Because Australia does not yet have an accurate way of collecting data on spinal cord injury (SCI),the statistics on how many people in Australia have an SCI vary.

During 2007-08, 362 new cases of SCI were registered with 77 (21%) of these resulting from non-traumatic causes where SCI was secondary to medical conditions such as vascular disorders (22%), infectious conditions (17%) and spinal canal stenosis (23%). Other conditions associated with non-traumatic SCI were related to disc herniation (17%), myelopathy (8%) and cancer (13%).

Where neurological levels and extent of injury were reported (241 cases), the most common neurological category was incomplete tetraplegia (38%), followed by incomplete paraplegia (27%), complete paraplegia (20%) and complete tetraplegia (15%).

The total number of registered cases incurring SCI from traumatic causes, and over the age of 15, was 285 of which 19 either did not survive (6 cases), were non-Australian residents (7 cases) or survived with no neurological deficit (6 cases). Of these cases, 84% were male and 16% female. The causes of injury were:

  • 66 (23%) were motor vehicle occupants involved in traffic and non-traffic land transport related incidents;
  • 64 (23%) were unprotected road users (motor cyclists, pedal cyclists or pedestrians) involved in traffic and non-traffic land transport related incidents;
  • 29 (10%) resulted from low falls;
  • 52 (18%) resulted from high falls (from a height of one metre or more);
  • 25 (9%) resulted from being hit or struck by an object;
  • 27 (9%) were water-related; and
  • 22 (8%) were from other causes.

The type of activity being undertaken at the time of injury included working for income (39 cases), other types of work (16 cases), sports (22 cases), leisure (48 cases), personal activity (11 cases) and other or unspecified activity (149 cases).

Citation: Norton, Lynda 2010, Spinal cord injury, Australia 2007–08, Injury Research and Statistics Series, Number 52, Canberra, AIHW (INJCAT 128). Click here for a full copy of the report. (NB: These are the most up to date statistics for spinal cord injury for Australia)

The cost of SCI

The Spinal Cord Injury Network states that the total cost of spinal cord injury in Australia is estimated to be $2 billion annually.

The Access Economics 2009 report The economic cost of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury in Australia published in June 2009 has extensive information on the cost of spinal cord injury.

See SCIA's SCI Resources Library for further publications on the costs of disability.

State and International statistics

NSW - NSW CDC SSCIS Reports 2005-2015

ACT - Statistics for the ACT are incorporated into the NSW statistics.

WA - Royal Perth Hospital Trauma Registry Report - 2010-2011

VIC - Victorian State Trauma Registry 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (See page 27 Trauma Profile for new injury statistics

USA National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC).

Disability statistics

In the 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) four million people in Australia (18.5%) reported having a disability.

Further publications on SCI and disability statistics 

For historial and other statistical publications see our collection of publications in our SCI Resources Library.

For further information on this or any other topic please call SCIA by phone on 1800 819 775 or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or visit the SCIA Library.

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