Understanding SCI and paralysis

The entire medical community used to believe paralysis was permanent. Not anymore; now they BEL13VE.

A spinal cord injury is one of the worst traumas a person can experience – physically, emotionally, socially, financially.

People living with paralysis can experience very different levels of functional loss, depending on where the injury occurred on the spinal cord, and on how extensive the damage to spinal nerves.

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is the most severe form of neurological condition.  This injury directly affects every organ system both above and below the site of the injury.

More than 282,000 Americans live with a SCI today, and another 17,000 more people are injured each year.  Tetraplegia (paralysis affecting both the upper and lower body) accounts for the majority of these cases, more than 60%.

The most obvious abilities lost to paralysis are the use of muscles for walking, sitting, moving arms and legs, and even breathing when the injury is high enough on the spinal cord.

Other abilities that are lost are less obvious, but every bit as important to health, independence, and life. Known as autonomic functions, paralysis can lim-it or end bowel and bladder control, body temperature regulation, sexual function, and blood pressure control.

Paralysis also leads to secondary health problems like infection, stroke, and respiratory or heart problems.

Perhaps worst of all, paralysis takes away years of life expectancy from any-one living with a spinal cord injury. Statistically, a person living with tetraplegia will loses more than 15 years of life expectancy to paralysis.

Paralysis is a condition that comes with a high price tag. After the initial medical bills, an injury like Jack’s will add extra lifetime costs of $5+ million for personal care and health care costs.  There are also lost wages (68% are un-employed) and other opportunity costs resulting from paralysis that the Nation-al Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Statistical Cen-ter estimates at $77,000 per year.

The cost to our country for managing the care of SCI patients exceeds $3 billion each year.

More than 300,000 Americans are living with paralysis from an injury to their spinal cord.  Every 29 minutes, another Americans suffer an injury to their spinal cord resulting in paralysis. Almost half of these injuries result from nothing more dangerous than riding in a car.

Most of these injuries cannot be predicted or prevented – they could strike anyone – but they can be repaired.

Most traumatic injuries do not completely sever the spinal cord. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures or compression of the vertebrae, which then destroy some of the nerves that carry signals up and down the spinal cord.

The entire medical community used to believe paralysis was permanent – that any hope for recovery was a lost cause. Not anymore; now they BEL13VE.

The research we support has demonstrated that human spinal networks can be transformed years after an injury to restore functions once thought to be permanently lost.

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