Shootings are on the rise in St. Louis, hitting some as young as two. The lifelong health care costs of a spinal cord injury to a 25-year-old can range from $1.6 million to $4.7 million, depending on the injury’s severity.
In various shootings, bullets hit a young mother doing laundry with her toddler playing nearby, a 6-year-old boy in the back seat of a car on his way to football practice, and a 2-year-old boy sitting on his father’s lap. Each faces physical and psychological therapy to try to recover from gunshot wounds. For every death from gun violence, many more are injured and permanently scarred when shots ring out. By one tally, more than 81,000 people in the U.S. survive gunshots every year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. There were 193 gun homicides in St. Louis in 2017, the highest in more than two decades. Police counted 2,439 reports of one or more people shot or fired at through November 2017, considered first-degree aggravated assaults with a gun. That’s up from 2,132 in 2016.
Bullets rip into bodies on a straight trajectory, but often bounce around once inside, tearing through vital organs and smashing bones. Many victims wind up paralyzed or brain damaged. At the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis, where patients spend at least 15 hours a week in physical, occupational and other therapies, the number of gunshot victims has increased in five years. “It used to be maybe a couple at a time,” said Tracie Lee-Lambert, director of admissions. “Now we have three, four, five or six at a time.” The lifelong health care costs of a spinal cord injury to a 25-year-old can range from $1.6 million to $4.7 million, depending on the severity of the injury, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. The number of children injured by gunfire and treated in trauma units at St. Louis and Cardinal Glennon children’s hospitals increased from 105 in 2015 to 146 last year.