Prevalence and Causes of Paralysis-United States, 2013

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To estimate the prevalence and causes of functional paralysis in the United States.


We used the 2013 US Paralysis Prevalence & Health Disparities Survey to estimate the prevalence of paralysis, its causes, associated sociodemographic characteristics, and health effects among this population.


Nearly 5.4 million persons live with paralysis. Most persons with paralysis were younger than 65 years (72.1%), female (51.7%), White (71.4%), high school graduates (64.8%), married or living with a partner (47.4%), and unable to work (41.8%). Stroke is the leading cause of paralysis, affecting 33.7% of the population with paralysis, followed by spinal cord injury (27.3%), multiple sclerosis (18.6%), and cerebral palsy (8.3%).


According to the functional definition, persons living with paralysis represent a large segment of the US population, and two thirds of them are between ages 18 and 64 years. Targeted health promotion that uses inclusion strategies to account for functional limitations related to paralysis can be undertaken in partnership with state and local health departments.

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