Hidden no more


Five times more people are living with spinal cord injuries than doctors thought, according to a report released in April. About 1.3 million Americans are living with the condition. Overall, 5.5 million Americans are living with some degree of paralysis due to a variety of neurological problems—everything from multiple sclerosis to strokes—according to the report authored by Anthony Cahill, a disability specialist at the University of New Mexico.

Possible reasons for this population, until now, being largely hidden: Cahill suggests that less extensive injuries have often gone uncounted—“They’re not all Christopher Reeves,” he told The Associated Press—and people are living longer with paralysis.

With advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cahill surveyed 33,000 U.S. households to measure how many people are living with some form of paralysis.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation plans to use the findings to push for health policy changes. One of its targets: Insurance policies that forbid $400 air cushions for wheelchairs until a patient suffers a skin ulcer that can require a $75,000 hospital stay.

For more information on the University of New Mexico's Center for Development and Disability, go here.

Liz Beaulieu