A new World Health Organization report, published to coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December, calls for improved rehabilitation services for people with spinal cord injury.
According to WHO, as many as 500,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury each year. The new report, "International perspectives on spinal cord injury", summarises the best evidence on the causes, prevention, care and lived experience of people with spinal cord injury.
It notes that many of the consequences of spinal cord injury do not result from the condition itself but from inadequate medical care and rehabilitation services. Barriers in the physical, social and policy environments exclude people with spinal cord injury from participation in their communities, it says, and calls for full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The report says that some essential measures will improve the survival, health and participation of people with spinal cord injury. These include:
- access to ongoing health care, health education and products to reduce risk of secondary conditions and improve quality of life;
- access to skilled rehabilitation and mental health services to maximise functioning, independence, well-being and community integration;
- access to appropriate assistive devices that can enable people to perform everyday activities, reducing functional limitations and dependency;
- specialised knowledge and skills among providers of medical care and rehabilitation services.
Among those who advised and contributed to the report was a WCPT representative, physical therapist Edelle Field-Fote, Professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Director of the Neuromotor Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
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