Washington, D.C. Five times more people are living with a spinal-cord injury than doctors have thought — nearly 1.3 million — says surprising new research that finds many of them unable to afford key health care.
Overall, 5.5 million people in the U.S. have some degree of paralysis because of a variety of neurologic problems, from multiple sclerosis to strokes, says a report released today.
The findings will help health authorities finally understand the scope of need in this largely hidden population.
“They’re not all Christopher Reeves,” said study author Anthony Cahill, a disability specialist at the University of New Mexico, referencing the late actor’s extensive spinal-cord injury and his highly publicized quest for groundbreaking treatments to overcome it.
Not only have less extensive injuries often gone uncounted, but the report suggests that people are living longer with paralysis — and they’re now starting to face the added complications of aging on top of a disability.