National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month – Start with the Basics

September has been designated National Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Awareness Month, thanks to a Senate resolution, and throughout the month we’ll highlight research and resources from the NIDILRR SCI community. The NIDILRR-funded National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates there are about 17,700 new cases of SCI in the US each year (PDF), and all of those families will start on a journey to learn about life after SCI. So, we’ll start with some of the basics: The basics of SCI, what you need to know about purchasing and maintaining a wheelchair, and how the wisdom of the community can help you adjust to your new life.

The Basics of SCI

What happens when the spinal cord is injured? The NIDILRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) covers some of the basics in their 2-part Understanding SCI series.

Dive deeper with the ACL-funded Paralysis Resource Center’s guide on How the Spinal Cord Works.

Finding and Maintaining a Mobility Device

MSKTC has you covered again with their three-part series on Getting the Right Wheelchair and What You Need to Know about Powered and Manual Wheelchairs, plus a recently published guide to wheelchair maintenance.

Not every person who experiences SCI needs a wheelchair. Check out the NIDILRR-funded AbleData project’s Guide to Walking Aids: Canes, Crutches, and Walkers and lots more publications to help you find the right assistive technology for your needs.

Build Some Basic Skills

Work on your independent transfer training skills with this program from the NIDILRR-funded University of Pittsburgh Model SCI System Center.

Explore the How To series from MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital with everything from how to get up from the floor to how to perform stretches and weight exercises.

The Empowerment Project at the University of Washington offers 23 health guides and 30 short videos on everything from wheelchair skills to health maintenance.

Connect with the Crowd

People who have lived with SCI can be an important source of information and support, particularly for individuals who are new to SCI. Some of the NIDILRR-funded Model SCI System Centers host community meetings and programs, and the Paralysis Resource Center can help you find support groups in your area. Check out these video collections, too:

Last year, our Director Mark Odum spent some time reflecting on his personal SCI journey and the future SCI research and development in Looking Back and Looking Forward with NARIC Director Mark Odum.

Are you interested in SCI research literature?

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