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One in 50 Americans Lives With Paralysis
Date:4/21/2009

eral population overall make less than that.
  • A closer look at the numbers reveals that of the 1.9 percent of Americans who have some form of paralysis, about 0.4 percent is due to a spinal cord injury.
  • The average age of those who responded that they are paralyzed is 52; considering spinal cord injury alone, the average age is 48.
  • Accidents at work were the number one cause of spinal cord injuries, followed by motor vehicle accidents, and sporting or recreation accidents.
  • Besides spinal cord injury, other causes of paralysis reported by respondents include stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and post-polio syndrome.
  • Next, the foundation will lobby in Washington, D.C., Canose said, using the new survey numbers to help remove barriers that can frustrate those with paralysis from getting and keeping jobs and completing tasks of daily living.

    Among improvements the foundation will seek, he said, are better adherence to the Americans With Disabilities Act, more support for the family caregivers of those who are paralyzed, and more and better-trained home health attendants.

    The foundation, in the report and in other publications, tries to put a human face on the problem of paralysis. For instance, one person featured in the report, Joel Heifitz, defies the stereotype. He became a quadriplegic in a swimming accident while on vacation in Mexico in 2003.

    After intense rehabilitation, Heifitz, now 50, continues in his job as CEO of Concept Laboratories in Chicago, which makes health and beauty products.

    "The big news [in the survey] is the numbers," Heifitz said. Once the new statistics sink in, the hope is that policymakers can be convinced that they need to make some changes, he noted.

    "Rehabilitation services are not adequate, in many cases," Heifitz added. Neither is access to proper equipment to help those who are paralyzed complete tasks of daily l
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