A recent report published by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has revealed that the numbers of people living with paralysis and spinal cord injury are far greater than previous estimates suggested. The new report, authored by a team of 60 scientists, academics, and health care professionals, sheds much needed awareness on the nearly 6 million Americans suffering with some form of paralysis or spinal cord injury.
The team known as the Paralysis Task Force was assembled in 2004 by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and charged with the mission of making substantial improvements in the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis. To begin their daunting undertaking, the task force took it upon themselves to gather and analyze new data. The report they have issued is the fruit of those initial labors.
Up to date information on Americans with paralysis and spinal cord injuries was found to be severely lacking. Since the available information was so out of date, health care professionals have faced difficult challenges in creating effective treatment programs and policies for assisting people with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
To address the problem of poor and lacking data, the Paralysis Task Force conducted a survey of more than 33,000 households. The study revealed that far more people are living with paralysis and spinal cord injury than previous estimates suggested.
According to The Examiner, the study found that about 6 million Americans 1.9% are living with some form of paralysis. Previous estimates of people living with paralysis were about 1/3 less than the data in the current report show. The report defines paralysis as, ‘a central nervous system disorder resulting in difficulty or inability to move the upper or lower extremities.’
The report also provides data on the causes of paralysis. Stroke is the major cause of paralysis, leading to 29% of paralysis cases. Spinal cord injury came in second with 23% of cases, followed by multiple sclerosis representing 17% of paralysis victims.
Perhaps even more shocking was the report’s revelation that over one million Americans suffer from some form of spinal cord injury. This number is more than 5 times greater than the estimate of 250,000 from 2007.
The Paralysis Task Force plans to continue working with the new data to improve the lives of spinal cord and paralysis patients. As costs associated with treatment continue to increase, the task force hopes their report will inspire more efficient and effective methods of treatment and long-term care, as well as heightened awareness of our many neighbors with spinal cord injury and paralysis.
(pic from christopherreeve.org)