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Written on 16th March 2022 by

Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) has launched its ‘What Matters?’ Survey for 2022, inviting people with spinal cord injury (SCI) to have their say.

Leading spinal cord injury charity, SIA, provides advice, information and support to thousands of people with spinal cord injuries each year. SIA also campaigns for improvements in treatment, care and support for those disabled by spinal injury to ensure their voices are heard and make a difference to their lives. 

SIA’s latest ‘What Matters?’ survey gives people living with SCI the opportunity to say what really matters to them. It asks them to voice their concerns and say what changes could help them lead more fulfilling lives. The results of the survey will help SIA understand where they should focus their campaigns and empower them to fight for change on their members’ behalf.

What mattered in 2021?

Last year’s Spinal Injuries Association reportWhat Matters 2021: A report on what really matters to spinal cord injured people in the UK today identified that SCI-injured people were struggling to access healthcare from GPs with expertise or understanding of spinal cord injury. They also struggled to access mental health support.

People living with spinal cord injuries feared needing care in hospital from staff who lacked SCI knowledge. They also had financial concerns about meeting the cost of essential treatments, such as physiotherapy. Being unable to access social care was one of the biggest concerns, according to the 2021 ‘What Matters?’ report. 

SIA say that they were able to use the information that they received from the (first ever) 2021 ‘What Matters?’ survey to persuade the government to change carers’ migration status. The charity also scaled up specialist clinical support to a regionally based team of nurses and occupational therapists (OTs), and committed to expanding their mental health work.

‘What Matters?’ Survey 2022 is now open to anyone who would like to share their experience with spinal cord injury.  SIA say that they are now asking SCI-injured people to share more of their knowledge, experience and ideas to help the charity understand what to focus their campaigns on and the types of specialists and partners they should be working with, to help them build their vision for SCI-injured people.  

Helping people with spinal cord injury (SCI)

SCI occurs when the spinal cord (bundle of nerves which run from the brain stem to the base of the spine) is severed or injured, cutting off communication between the brain and the body below the level of the injury.  After someone suffers a spinal cord injury they experience a permanent loss of sensation and function in the affected part of the body. The disability is worse, and more extensive, the higher the level of injury to the spine.

Where all four limbs and the torso are paralysed, this is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Paraplegia refers to paralysis of the lower half of the body. Cauda equina syndrome (CES) often involves partial paralysis or weakness of lower limbs, and impaired bowel, bladder and sexual function and sensation. Spinal fracture, in which the vertebrae are injured but the spinal cord remains intact, may avoid the severe disability associated with SCI but carries additional risk of future SCI and, therefore, can have a restricting impact on the person’s life.

Our clients have suffered disability from spinal injury after falls, accidents at work, road traffic accidents, sporting accidents and assaults. Many have lost their chance of recovery as a result of negligent surgery, incorrect handling or delayed diagnosis and treatment.

Each person’s injury has had a devastating impact on their life, but their disability is ever-present and individual, as is the way it affects them and what they need to help them live healthy, independent and fulfilling lives.

Where the circumstances of their injury entitle them to make a claim, we can help them recover compensation to ease their financial hardship and pay for rehabilitation, care and assistance, essential equipment and therapies, and adapted accommodation.

Have your say

SIA’s ‘What Matters?’ Survey March 2022 is now open on the Spinal Injuries Association website.Have your say at  Tell us what matters to you (spinal.co.uk).

If you have disability from spinal injury and would like to find out more about making a claim, you can talk to one of our experienced solicitors, free and confidentially, by contacting us here.