A man who lost the use of his legs in 1988 already knew just how quickly a spinal cord injury can change a life. His spinal cord injury came after a diving accident when he was nearly 21, changing his life suddenly and permanently. Two years earlier, he had sat by his best friend's side after his best friend was paralyzed by a spinal cord injury received in a car accident.
Spinal cord injuries don't discriminate, says the man, who has pledged to raise $250,000 for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, a research and advocacy center for people with paralysis. But his pledge - and the life of him and his friend - come at a potential turning point for people living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
Just 20 years ago, an adult with a serious spinal cord injury would not be expected to recover. The man says his generation is the first to survive spinal cord injuries. Now, people who receive spinal cord injuries are living productive lives. And while spinal cord research is still painstaking and slow, scientists are entering a pivotal time in the field. For example, scientists are working on activity-based exercise that can remind the spinal cord how to step and stand again.
People who are paralyzed have an increasing number of options to improve the quality of their lives and allow for more independent living. While working and raising money for the foundation, the man is helping to raise two sons. He uses a power wheelchair and drives a car.
But living with a spinal cord injury still comes with enormous physical, emotional and financial challenges that extend beyond using a wheelchair. The lifelong cost of caring for a 25-year-old with such an injury is estimated to be between $1.5 to $4 million.
That can be a significant financial burden. In some cases, if the injury is caused by the negligence of another person, a personal injury suit can provide the financial compensation that an injured person will need to cover these costs. An experienced Los Angeles attorney can provide more information.
Source: ABC News, "Best Friends Paralyzed Little More Than Two Years Apart, Susan Donaldson James, Dec. 13, 2012