Yes, before World War II, most people who sustained SCI died within weeks of their injury due to urinary dysfunction, respiratory infection or pressure sores. With the advent of modern antibiotics, modern materials such as plastics and latex, and better procedures for dealing with everyday issues of living with SCI, many people approach the life span of non-disabled individuals. Interestingly, other than level of injury, the type of rehabilitation facility used is the greatest indicator of long-term survival.
This illustrates the importance of and the difference made by going to a facility that specializes in SCI. People who use ventilators are at some increased danger of dying from pneumonia or respiratory infection, but modern technology is improving in that area, as well. Pressure sores are another common cause of hospitalization and, if not treated, death.