New data reveals urgent need for education around spinal cord injury

New data released today by Spinal Injuries Association has found that there is a lack of knowledge around the public perception of spinal cord injury (SCI) and the challenges a person faces when they sustain an injury.

38% of people believe that when a person sustains a spinal cord injury, they are unable to walk, which is not always the case with SCI, with 29% of those sustaining an SCI being able to walk after injury, depending on the extent of their injury. And 39% of those surveyed did not believe a SCI person can drive a car, which many are able to do with adaptions.

Further misconceptions uncovered found the general public had a lack of understanding around a spinal cord injured person’s ability to retain memories, control their skin temperature and to talk, all of which can affected by the impact of a spinal cord injury.

The data also suggested a lack of knowledge around how much a person’s breathing is affected, with the consequence not featuring strongly in the responses, however, the charity knows this can affect breathing for a person living with an SCI, due it leading to an impairment of the respiratory system and the associated paralysed muscles to enable effective breathing. This can vary depending on the extent of the neurological deficit and complications from respiratory insufficiency is the number one cause of mortality and morbidity after SCI.

Spinal Injuries Association knows how devastating SCI is for every person affected by it and how in a split second, a person can lose their independence, their freedom and sometimes even their reason for staying alive. It can affect every part of a person’s life.

And this not only affects them physically but also mentally, as the report titled ‘It is not just Physical’ published last year raised deep concerns around the quality of mental health support provided to people living with a SCI.

The data that was conducted by psychologists at the University of Reading found that 28% of people living with a SCI experience suicidal ‘ideation’ – frequent thoughts or ideas about committing suicide and over 47% of people living with a SCI reported experiencing mental health problems in one or more of the assessed mental health conditions.

When it came to relationships, further data conducted by the charity also revealed accessibility as being a major headache for any wheelchair-user with 74% saying they felt frustrated that dinners out with their partner or family were spoilt by either not being able to get into the restaurant, or that whilst inside they were not accessible or didn’t have facilities they could use.

In response to this data, Spinal Injuries Association will be highlighting the everyday challenges that spinal cord injured people face for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2022 (SCIAD) on Friday 13 May.

During the day the charity will be asking their members and the spinal cord injured community ‘what is your everyday mountain?’

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