Every four hours another person is paralysed – and another family’s life torn apart. Our aim is to be the go-to place for everyone affected by spinal injury, so that we can quickly connect them to the vast network of people, organisations and services they need.
It’s sadly still the case that only one in three newly injured people will get access to the best possible care in an NHS spinal cord injury centre. As our chair Dr Rupert Earl says: “It makes no moral or economic sense that every year around 1,700 people have their potential stunted, their recovery delayed, and their lives put at risk by inadequate care in a non-specialist setting, often at many times the cost.”
That’s why our very existence is so crucial. That could be the practical support from our range of regional coordinators, all of whom live with a spinal cord injury. Or our team of specialist SCI nurses who are there for those who need it. And our campaigners defending spinally injured people’s rights and pushing for better patient care.
At the centre of a network of services
What’s listed above is just the tip of the iceberg. With increased funding, we can go even further. And our plans are to do just that. Ultimately we want to welcome many more spinal cord injured people into the network of specialist services, regional support, peers, professionals and volunteers. Through a transformation in our online services so that people can get increasingly rapid support when they need it, and with the huge backing of our generous partners who fund us and deliver services for SCI people.
And not just after injury, but for a lifetime of support.
How it started
Our founder and president is Baroness Masham of Ilton, who became spinal cord injured at T5 following a riding accident in 1958. The baroness is an active member of the House of Lords and is especially vocal on health and disability, especially spinal cord injury. When she founded our organisation in 1974, her main concerns were the lack of specialist medical care available to all newly-injured people, and the lack of information and advice available to SCI people on leaving hospital. Out of these twin concerns, the Spinal Injuries Association was born.
Our patron: HRH The Princess Royal
Princess Anne has been a great source of support and encouragement over the years. She became patron on our 10th anniversary in 1984, and has faithfully supported the organisation as it has grown and developed over the years.
Her royal highness regularly attends our events and was the guest of honour when we opened our HQ – SIA House in Milton Keynes – back in 2005.
Our work in numbers
Here’s some of the key statistics on spinal cord injury, taken from our most recent annual report for 2019/20.
Number of patients referred to spinal cord injury centres in England, of which a staggering 63% weren’t admitted
More than half of all injuries (55%) were caused by an accident and 45% were the result of illness or a medical condition. No cause of injury was noted in 26% of those referred
Falls accounted for 57% of spinal cord injuries resulting from an accident
The 55-59 year-old age group accounted for the most new injuries
67% of people referred to an English spinal cord injury centre were male, and 33% were female