Spinal cord injury

More than 2,000 people in the Maritimes are living with spinal cord injuries. The majority of these are younger men injured in motor vehicle collisions, falls, violent incidents, or industrial or sporting accidents. Because most traumatic spinal cord injuries happen before the age of 30, those who survive the immediate injury face many years in a wheelchair.

In addition to those living with traumatic spinal cord injuries, many more people are living with mobility problems caused by non-traumatic spinal cord injuries caused by such things as infection, cancer, neurologic diseases, sudden or chronic loss of blood supply, or compression or deterioration of the vertebrae.

The effects of spinal cord injury can be devastating. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, a person may have no movement or sensation below the neck, mid-back or lower back. In addition, they may experience chronic pain, bladder and/or bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, hypertension, and respiratory problems. Beyond the physical, many people with spinal cord injuries develop mental health problems, particularly if they can’t work or if they feel socially isolated.

Spinal cord injuries take a toll not only on individuals and their families, but on society as a whole. According to the Rick Hansen Foundation, spinal cord injuries cost the Canadian health care system approximately $750 million each year.

Fortunately, scientists are rapidly gaining insight into the workings of the spinal cord and potential means of restoring lost function. Mobility Project researchers are among the world leaders in this important research mission.

The Canadian Paraplegic Association provides advocacy, services and support to people with spinal cord injury, while the Rick Hansen Foundation raises public awareness and funds a wide variety of research and advocacy projects.

At the same time, initiatives such as Think First are dedicated to preventing traumatic injuries to the brain and spinal cord. For nearly 20 years, Think First has been working hard to change attitudes, behaviours and legislation, to reduce the number and severity of such life-changing injuries.

Last Updated (Monday, 13 December 2010 09:49)