Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week

Did you know that today is World Spinal Cord Injury Day? It’s a global day that is the initiative of the International Spinal Cord Society and kicks of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week here in Australia.

The primary aim of the day (and the National week) is to raise awareness about what it means to have a spinal cord injury (SCI) and to recognise that people with spinal cord injuries still contribute to the community in many meaningful ways.

Those who participate in the week also aim to highlight the challenges that people living with spinal cord injuries face. The Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation is encouraging us to partake in SIPtember – and sip all of our beverages during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week through a straw. Why? Because we can elect to do so but many SCI sufferers have no choice but to sip through a straw – every day.

Faran, our Director, took the opportunity to reflect on spinal cord injury cases and the impact they have on his clients.

    There are approximately 12,000 recorded cases of spinal cord injury in Australia, and another 300-400 cases every year. Quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs) is the unfortunate result in about 50% of all these cases. There is no known cure for spinal cord injury.

    Unfortunately, my team and I see the truly devastating impacts of spinal cord injury – with too many of our clients suffering spinal cord injuries as a result of unfortunate accidents. One such client is Dan. I personally ran Dan’s case, and have spent a lot of time with Dan and his wife Deb – both during the course of their claim and afterwards. We we’re honoured to visit Dan and Deb up in Rockhampton in 2015 and have them share Dan’s story via a number of short films.

    Dan’s story is a harrowing one, working on-site back in 2007, under a huge shade awning that wasn’t secured properly (unbeknownst to Dan). A large gust of wind knocked the structure into flight, and a huge beam landed on Dan, almost cutting him in half.

    Given the severity of his injuries, Dan was airlifted to Brisbane almost immediately. During the flight, Dan’s wife Deb, who was at his side through everything, was told that he had only a 2% chance of survival. Thankfully, Dan is a fighter and made it through multiple surgeries, going on to spend 6 months in Spinal Injury Unit at the PA Hospital here in Brisbane.

    It’s been a tough road for Dan and Deb, Dan was left with a serious and life altering spinal cord injury, as well as chronic neuropathic pain. But anyone who meets this wonderful couple would agree that they continue to show incredible strength and a ‘never give up’ attitude.

    You can learn more about Dan and Deb’s journey here.

    This, unfortunately, is one of far too many spinal cord injury cases that I have seen in my time. And tragically, so many of these (if not all of them) were avoidable. Whether it was a careless driver or negligence in the workplace, the result is the same – a lifelong, incredibly challenging injury, which dramatically impacts the sufferer, their family and friends.

    I think though, it’s also important to recognise that our clients, and all those who have suffered a spinal cord injury, continue to move forward and meaningfully contribute to the community in so many ways.

    From what I have seen, SCI sufferers so often strive and work to get back to something like their life before the accident and I think in a very real way, we share responsibility to ensure anyone with a spinal cord injury can get back to work and life, without barriers from those around them.

So, this week (and every week), let’s recognise the challenges those with spinal cord injuries face and how we may be able to better understand these challenges, and breakdown any barriers that may exist in our own workplaces or communities to ensure accessibility for all.

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