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Cost of spinal cord injuries caused by rollover automobile crashes
  1. Stephen P Burns1,2,3,4,
  2. Robert P Kaufman1,
  3. Christopher D Mack1,
  4. Eileen Bulger1,5
  1. 1Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  3. 3VA Puget Sound Health Care System, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  4. 4Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  5. 5Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Stephen P Burns, Spinal Cord Injury Service (128), VA Puget Sound Health Care System, 1660 South Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108, USA; spburns{at}


Objective To determine the reduction in direct cost for treatment of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in belted occupants involved in rollover automobile crashes in the USA that would result if severe roof intrusion were eliminated.

Methods Risk of SCI per rollover crash and by belted/unbelted status was calculated for roof intrusion magnitude categories using 1993–2006 National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (CDS) data. Direct costs of SCI based on neurological level and completeness of SCI were calculated using data from the National SCI Statistical Center.

Results A reduction in rate of SCI for belted occupants with >15 cm roof intrusion to the rate seen for belted occupants with 8–15 cm roof intrusion would reduce the direct cost of SCI by approximately $97 million annually.

Conclusion There would be substantial cost savings solely by a reduction in one uncommon type of injury, SCI, if severe roof intrusion were eliminated.

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • spinal fractures
  • accidents
  • traffic
  • motor vehicle crashes
  • economics
  • MVTC
  • spinal cord

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  • Funding Work was performed for the Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) project at the University of Washington/Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Funding has been provided by NHTSA under Cooperative Agreement Number DTNH22-05-H-11001. Additional support has been provided by Grant No. R49 CCR002570-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Grant No. H133N060033 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and the Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System. Views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NHTSA, CDC, NIDRR or VA. Study design, data acquisition, analysis and interpretation, manuscript preparation and review were conducted independent of sponsoring organisations.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Washington Human Subjects Review Committee (Seattle, Washington, USA).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.