SCI: It’s September, So Be Aware

I better hurry and finish this blog before we run out of days in September. It’s Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month. You may be thinking, most people who have a spinal cord injury surely need no annual reminder that SCI is the female dog of maladies.

But the rest of the world this is pretty clueless about paralysis. This annual awareness campaign is a chance to remember that while the incidence of SCI is not huge, its impact is enormous.

Here’s something, celebrating the month, from United Spinal (a sponsor of First 90 Days!):

Spinal cord injury (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. People who sustain a spinal cord injury often have permanent and profound neurologic deficits and accompanying paralysis.

  • There are approximately 285,000 people in the U.S. living with SCI in 2017.
  • There are approximately 17,500 new SCI cases in the U.S. each year.
  • The average age at injury has increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 42 years currently.
  • Males account for about 81% of new SCI cases.
  • Vehicle crashes are currently the leading cause of SCI (38.4%), followed by falls, acts of violence, and sports/recreation activities.
  • About 30% of people with SCI are re-hospitalized one or more times during any given year following injury.
  • SCI costs roughly $40.5 billion annually

And here’s the story about SCI month. Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation for increased SCI awareness in 2014. He didn’t say it would go on every year, but it obviously has. Here’s the full text – passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Here’s the best part, investing in research and therapies, quoted from the bill:

Whereas increased education and investment in research are key factors to improving outcomes for victims of spinal cord injuries, improving the quality of life of victims, and ultimately curing paralysis: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate (1) designates September 2014 as “National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month”; (2) supports the goals and ideals of National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month; (3) continues to support research to find better treatments, more effective therapies, and a cure for paralysis; (4) supports clinical trials for new therapies that offer promise and hope to people living with paralysis; and (5) commends the dedication of local, regional, and national organizations, researchers, doctors, volunteers, and people across the United States that are working to improve the quality of life of people living with paralysis and their families.

Says Rubio:

“Over the years, research about spinal cord injuries has helped treat millions of patients, while helping prevent injuries for millions more through education and awareness. But more must be done with the goal of helping those who have been affected to walk again. I am honored to play my part in having the U.S. Senate recognize Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, and help boost efforts in support of this worthy cause,” said Senator Rubio.

While you are celebrating SCI awareness, arrrrh! Don’t forget that it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19!

by Sam Maddox