With recent research revealing that one person is diagnosed with a spinal cord injury every four hours, a number of leading charities have urged the Government to increase the support available.
The latest figures, published by Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire and Back Up, show that an estimated 2,500 people are injured or diagnosed with a spinal cord injury every year – not 1,000 as previously thought.
This represents around one new spinal cord injury every four hours, or around 50,000 people living with a spinal cord injury at any one time in the UK, increasing the demand on hospitals and carers rapidly.
Publishing the figures, the charities said they are calling on “all Government departments” to ensure that “every spinal cord injured person has the care and support they need and deserve to lead a fulfilled and independent life”.
The charities have attributed the rapidly growing figures to “improved reporting and record keeping”, as well as a more “inclusive definition of spinal cord injury”. This means non-traumatic causes such as illnesses – as well as accidents – have been included in the data.
The charity also applauds medical advances, meaning people with a spinal cord injury are now living “broadly the same” as non-injured people.
However, Nik Hartley, Chief Executive of Spinal Injuries Association, said this is leading to only between one third and one-half of recently injured people being able to access specialist NHS care – while those that do can expect “lengthy delays”.
“The revelation that there are hundreds of more people across the UK that are now known to sustain a spinal cord injury every year is stark”, said Mr Hartley.
“But it is not just the increased numbers; it is the decreasing provision of specialist services alongside that, that is truly shocking. The NHS and wider government must dramatically increase vital and extremely specialist health care and support to the 2,500 people each year who are having to come to terms with a life of paralysis from spinal cord injury. We will not stop fighting until that change in investment happens.”