Lifewatch: Paralysis study

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - A study released by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation indicates that 5.6 million people are dealing with some form of paralysis, which is 1 in 50 Americans.

"Paralysis from all sources is dramatically more widespread than previously thought," said Christopher's son Matthew Reeve.

According to the study, the number one cause is stroke.  Spinal cord injuries are the second leading factor, affecting 1.275 million people, which is 5 times higher than earlier estimates.

"And we've been trying for a long time to figure out how many people there are so we can go in front of Congress and the Senate and try to get necessary funds that are out there," said Alan Brown who has a spinal cord injury.

The study was conducted with help from top experts across the country and was populated base on a phone survey.

It used a broad definition of paralysis, including anyone who had a central nervous system disorder that led to either inability or difficulty moving their arms and legs and relied on responses.

"There'll be a lot of discussion about the numbers, the methodology, why are the numbers so high and a lot of that is going to require further research," said Dr. Edwin Trevalthan.

"It's really going to make a difference where the funding will come through to finally give people quality of life in order to live the way we're supposed to live," said Brown.

The report also identified nearly 1 million people who said they had paralysis as a result of some form of multiple sclerosis.  That's more than double previous estimates.