World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is an important date on the global calendar. It’s also part of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week right here in Australia. Having a full week dedicated to raising awareness about spinal cord injuries (SCIs) is really important because these affect one’s whole life, not just the spine.
According to the Australian Spinal Cord Injury Research Collaborative, nearly 21,000 Australians are living with a spinal cord injury. Most of them are under the age of 65.
An SCI can happen very easily, to anyone. Many Australians only discover how easy it is to experience an SCI if they or someone they know experience it themselves. This is also when they learn about the effects of spinal cord injury, such as paralysis, and the ripple effect on other areas of life.
Knowledge is power, so let’s spread the knowledge for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2022.
World SCI Day 2022
World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is also known as SCI Day or World SCI Day and it takes place on 5 September. A simple and effective way to get involved is by knowledge sharing with videos and articles on your social media and via conversations with friends and family.
Another great way to support this cause is by liking and following the non-profit organisation Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. You can also get involved in their Be A Hero campaign to help raise funds.
Be sure to also read about the inspiring ‘Take Life Back campaign’ from Spinal Life Australia. This dedicated organisation has amazing sharable videos from people sharing their personal stories about living with SCIs.
What is a spinal cord injury?
A simple but important question to share the answer to on World SCI Day is ‘what is spinal cord injury‘?
Any injury that damages the nerves and cells in the spinal cord is an SCI. Depending on the severity, an SCI can cause total or partial paralysis from below the point of the injury. That means if the injury is to the neck, a person may experience paralysis in the arms and legs, known as quadriplegia.
If the injury is lower the affected areas may be limited only to the legs, resulting in paraplegia.
A spinal cord injury can happen because of a road incident or water dive gone wrong, but it can also happen from hitting your head or falling a short distance at just the wrong angle. Be sure to read the list of common SCI statistics in our Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week article to better inform yourself.
Do you know about the National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) which was originally recommended along with the NDIS by the Productivity Commission? Read our article on the NIIS scheme to find out more.
We only have one (amazing) spinal cord
Our bodies are incredibly resilient. When we break a bone in our leg for instance, we can hold the bone in place and the nerves and fibres will knit together and grow back.
The cells and nerves in the spinal cord are part of such a complex system that when they’re damaged the body’s entire chemical, anatomical and immune system changes. This makes it hard for these important cells and nerves to regenerate.
The spinal cord is a central part of the nervous system, and of the body as a whole. It’s a dynamic living system of cables that send and receive lightning-fast messages between the whole body and the brain. Damage any part of that communication channel and it’s possible to lose control of the part of the body it sends signals to.
The effects of a SCI
Becoming more aware and sharing that awareness for World SCI Day means sharing some of the effects people don’t always think of or know about. When you have a spinal cord injury it can affect your ability to eat, use the loo and drive, but they’re among many, many other areas of life that change.
When you get too hot or cold, or numb from staying in the same position too long, you respond to these signals your body translates between your brain and that part of your body. But with an SCI, you may not be able to register these signals. This means temperature can fluctuate dangerously as can blood supply, leading to other medical concerns.
Living with an SCI also makes you more prone to autonomic dysreflexia, which can potentially be life threatening. This condition affects your body’s automatic functions like breathing and pulse for example.
People with SCIs generally will depend on the use of a wheelchair or mobility scooter to maintain mobility. The use of a wheelchair accessible vehicle or converted car also helps make getting around possible.
Although there’s no ‘cure’ for spinal cord injuries, there are several approaches that may help. Depending on the type of injury and timing of treatment, there are cortisol treatments that can limit the swelling in the spinal cord to prevent permanent damage.
Additionally, there are therapies that have helped people re-learn to use the parts of their bodies that aren’t responding to brain signals. For example, Royal Rehab now offers assisted walking with an exoskeleton suit.
Spinal Cord Awareness Day lessons
For Spinal Cord Awareness Day let’s be conscientious of how valuable our spines are. Stay safe by avoiding everyday risks like distracted driving, standing on wobbly chairs and step ladders, and not checking the depth of a body of water before diving in. Wear your seatbelt at all times, put on a helmet and protective gear when bike riding or enjoying other sports, keep the surfaces of your home slip-free… it all reduces the potential for injury.
Protect what you have to help it last. For those who use a wheelchair or mobility scooter or converted car – protect these too, with a great disability insurance plan. As a disability insurance specialist, Blue Badge Insurance offers discounts to those who need it most.
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