NEW YORK, Sept. 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association is actively working to identify barriers to appropriate rehabilitation services that provide greater personal independence and improved quality of life.
United Spinal Information Specialists are continually contacted by individuals with spinal cord injuries or other conditions or disorders who are denied appropriate rehab for myriad reasons leading to reports of poor outcomes.
"The first few months after spinal cord injury is a critical period in terms of rehabilitation. It's important that people have access to condition-specific education and physical rehabilitation strategies, so they can effectively transition back into their work, school and family lives," said Bill Fertig, manager of United Spinal's Resource Center.
United Spinal Information Specialists field approximately 5,000 inquiries annually from wheelchair users, their family members, case managers and other medical professionals.
Toward this end, United Spinal is collecting data on instances of denial of appropriate rehabilitation through its Resource Center's helpdesk from patients with spinal cord injury. The data will be utilized to strengthen regional and national advocacy efforts to bring greater awareness on the critical role rehabilitation plays in patient outcomes.
"Ultimately, our goal is to keep people out of nursing homes, disconnected from their communities and any opportunity to live on their own terms," said Fertig.
"That's one of the greatest misconceptions of spinal cord injury, that people can no longer do the things they used to or pursue the same goals because they now use a wheelchair. That's just not true. Many things just need to be done in a different way. With the right support, anything is possible. Our members prove that every day," added Fertig.
September, National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, offers United Spinal the opportunity to raise public awareness of life's possibilities with spinal cord injury after rehabilitation. With over 50 chapters and 200 support groups nationwide, many of the organization's members are living active and independent lives due to appropriate rehabilitation and a strong support base.
"There's not only a clinical side to rehabilitation, it also connects people with spinal cord injuries and their family members to the right outside resources, education and peer mentors as they continue in their recovery," explained Fertig.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the number of people with spinal cord injury living in the United States is currently estimated to be approximately 288,000 persons with approximately 17,700 new spinal cord injuries occurring annually. The average age at injury is 43 years, with males accounting for 78 percent of new injuries. Vehicle crashes are currently the leading cause of injury, closely followed by falls. Acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds) and sports/recreation activities are also relatively common causes. Rehabilitation lengths of stay have declined from 98 days in the 1970s to 34 days currently.
About United Spinal Association United Spinal is a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post-polio. United Spinal has played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act and made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Membership is free and is open to all individuals with SCI/D. United Spinal was instrumental in getting New York City to create sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation that has been used as a model for many United States cities.