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It was previously thought that around 1,000 people are diagnosed with a spinal cord injury every year in the UK, however new data estimates from leading spinal cord injury charities Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire and Back Up has revealed that the figure is actually closer to 2,500. This means that spinal cord injury paralyses someone approximately every four hours in the UK.
The new estimates also show that the total number of people living in the UK with a spinal cord injury is around 50,000, not 40,000 as was widely believed previously – including by the NHS itself.
Reasons for the increase in estimates have been put down to a number of factors, including:
- Improved reporting and record keeping
- A more inclusive definition of spinal cord injury which includes non-traumatic causes such as illnesses as well as accidents
- Life expectancy of those living with spinal cord injuries is now around the same as for non-injured, due to medical advances
Furthermore, data from the NHS shows that the nature of spinal cord injury being recorded has changed in recent years. The number of older people and women sustaining a spinal cord injury has increased, as well as those who sustain a spinal cord injury through illness or condition, while the ‘stereotypical view of a spinal cord injured person as a young man who has come off a motorbike’ is reducing.
Worryingly, the research also highlighted that less than half of recently injured individuals are able to access specialist NHS care and there are lengthy delays for those that do.
I have become increasingly aware of this concerning trend through contact with the spinal injury centres (SICs). Many of the older people sustaining such life changing injuries are already very vulnerable and their needs are best met by the dedicated healthcare teams specialising in such trauma in the SICs. Sadly we’ve had to act for clients with horrific pressure sores which hugely hinder recovery and rehabilitation where specialist care has not been provided which would have entirely avoided this complication.
At Potter Rees Dolan our primary aim is to ensure our clients enjoy the best care and rehabilitation at the earliest opportunity. Many such injuries happen as a result of falls in shops or other public buildings or whilst a person is in residential care or similar facility and it’s written off as “just one of those things” as the person had mobility difficulties, but we have successfully obtained compensation to fund lifelong care in such cases which are legally complex and need specialist attention.
Rachel Rees is a Solicitor Consultant in Personal Injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about personal injury issues or indeed any other aspect of this article and wish to speak to Rachel or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888 or email Rachel directly.