United Spinal Association played a key role in championing a resolution that passed the U.S. Senate designating September 2019 as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.
The resolution (S.Res.329), introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), recognizes the 291,000 individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) in the U.S.
“United Spinal commends Senators Rubio and Baldwin for raising public awareness on the unique challenges individuals and families affected by spinal cord injuries and paralysis must overcome,” said James Weisman, president and CEO of United Spinal Association.
“We look forward to working with both senators and all of Congress to ensure Americans living with SCI, including paralyzed veterans, have the very best services and support for their injuries,” added Weisman.
SCI is an injury to the spinal cord that results in temporary or permanent changes in the spinal cord’s normal motor, sensory, or autonomic function. It can cause permanent and profound neurologic deficits and accompanying disability.
SCI can result in paralysis of the muscles used for breathing; paralysis and/or loss of feeling in all or some of the trunk, arms, and legs; weakness; numbness; loss of bowel and bladder control; and numerous secondary conditions including respiratory problems, pressure sores, and sometimes fatal spikes in blood pressure.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the annual incidence of SCI is approximately 54 cases per one million people in the U.S., or about 17,730 new SCI cases each year.
The average age at injury has increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 43 years in 2018. About 78 percent of new SCI cases are male. Vehicle crashes are the most recent leading cause of injury, closely followed by falls. Acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds) and sports/recreation activities are also relatively common causes.
United Spinal is committed to advocating for greater civil rights and independence for wheelchair users and all Americans impacted by SCI. It advocates to expand education and employment, improve enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensure adequate access to public transportation and taxi services, and amend Medicare rules that restrict many individuals to their homes and nursing facilities.