In July 2013, the U.S. Senate designated September as Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month. This new annual month focus brings awareness for individuals that suffer from the effects of spinal cord injuries and allows for further education, injury prevention and an understanding of the importance of medical treatment and spinal cord research.
Statistics and Injuries
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) states that approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injuries occur in the United States every year. This unfortunate statistic excludes people who do not survive their injuries. According to the United Spinal Association (USA), the majority of these injuries occur as a result from motor vehicle accidents, falls, work-related incidents and sports injuries.
Terminology and Understanding
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation defines spinal cord injury as “damage to the nerves within the spinal canal.” The location and level of the injury or damage can affect a variety of physical abilities. Injury and damage to the spinal cord can paralyze a person’s arms and legs, as well as paralyze the muscles used for breathing. There can also be weakness, numbness, loss of bladder and bowel control, and numerous other medical conditions and complications. The USA explains tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, as a condition associated with injury to the cervical region. Symptoms associated with this type of injury often include loss of feeling and/or movement in their head, neck, shoulder, arms and/or chest, stomach, hips, legs and feet. It also explains that paraplegia is a condition where an individual has lost feeling and/or is not able to move the lower parts of his or her body. This can include the chest, stomach, hips, legs and feet.
Long-Term Planning and Care
There can be exorbitant costs associated with managing spinal cord injury care. People living with spinal cord injuries often require comprehensive medical care and treatment, long-term physical and occupational therapies and adaptive equipment to increase mobility and quality of life standards. There are a variety of organizations promoting social events, adaptive sports and activities, as well as informational and educational events for people living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Life Rolls On, Blaze Sports America, the Adaptive Sports Center and the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs are just a few of the organizations that host events ranging from surfing to snow skiing and from basketball to biking. To learn more about spinal cord injuries or to get involved you can contact The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, or the United Spinal Association at the links below: http://www.unitedspinal.org/about/mission-history/ http://www.christopherreeve.org http://www.spinalcord.org/