Home Health & Wellness Every 2 Hours, Someone Is Paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury in the UK, New Data Reveals

Every 2 Hours, Someone Is Paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury in the UK, New Data Reveals

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New data reveals the number of people injured or diagnosed with a spinal cord injury is approximately double that previously estimated.

With assistance from the charities Aspire, Spinal Injuries Association, Spinal Injuries Scotland, Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research, Wings For Life, Regain, Horatio’s Garden, Cauda Equina Spinal Cord Injury, Cauda Equina Champions Charity, and Wheelpower, Andrew Coxon, National Spinal Cord Injury Database (NSCID) Manager at the NHS, Abigail Lock, CEO at Back Up, and Shajia Shahid, Clinical Research Network Manager at Spin

The analysis indicates that there are an estimated 4,400 new cases of spinal cord injuries per year in the UK.

This equates to someone becoming paralysed every two hours.

As a result, the estimated prevalence of spinal cord injuries in the UK has risen to 105,000.

The analysis was derived from multiple NHS data sources, including National Spinal Cord Injury Database and the UK Rehabilitation Outcomes Collaborative (UK ROC), covering admissions and referrals.

Previous estimates stated that there was a total of 50,000 people living with a spinal cord injury, with 2,500 new cases each year. These new estimates, however, indicate a considerable increase across both figures.

Even though more data needs to be gathered and analysed, it is thought that a big part of the rise is due to including more traumatic (resulting from physical trauma) and non-traumatic (including things like cord compression, tumours, inflammation, and infections) injuries.

An illness, an accident, or a health condition can result in a spinal cord injury. They affect not just your mobility and sensation, but also the functioning of your bladder, bowel, skin, breathing, and sexual function.

These statistics have profound implications for the design and delivery of services to people living with spinal cord injuries, including:

  • Acute, rehabilitation, and community health services
  • Adult care
  • Continuing health care
  • Wheelchair services
  • Non-governmental agencies engaged in transport, housing and the workplace
  • Charities and the third sector

The charities are calling on all government departments to ensure that every person with spinal cord injury has the care and support they need and deserve to lead a fulfilled and independent life.

Nik Hartley OBE, chief executive of the Spinal Injuries Association, said: “The revelation that there are double the number of people across the UK who are sustaining a spinal cord injury each year is stark, but no surprise to the charities that support people across the UK. People with a spinal cord injury and their families too often face stretched or inappropriate health and support services, barriers to accessing carers, transport and housing, and a lack of awareness about this life-long condition. The NHS and wider government must dramatically increase vital specialist health care and support to the 4,400 people each year who are having to come to terms with a life of paralysis from spinal cord injury. We will not stop campaigning until that change in investment happens.”

Abigail Lock, chief executive of Back Up, said: “Spinal cord injury can happen to any body at any time.  When it does, your whole life changes in an instant.  A positive future is possible but it’s imperative that anyone sustaining a spinal cord injury and their families receive the right support. Back Up brought the sectors charities together in coalition to shine a light on this issue and get a better understanding of the scale of the challenge. It is shocking that almost 80% of people with spinal cord injury are not getting to NHS specialist spinal cord injury centres. This needs to change. ”

Brian Carlin, chief executive of Aspire, said: “We are pleased to have supported this research as it highlights how many more people than previously thought are affected by Spinal Cord Injury and therefore the increasing importance of the charities in this sector. We join with the other spinal injury charities in their call for the changes that need to happen.  In the meantime, we will continue to help the 105,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK to live independently.”

Louisa McGinn, chief executive of Spinal Research, said: “We are proud to have contributed to this collaborative process. It is vital that health and social care systems have the capacity to deliver care and support to our community. This also emphasises the importance of investing in research and development to drive even better outcomes in future.”

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