Why walking one day may not be the #1 priority for those with SCI

grand-opening-crowd2“It is … autonomic functions that we take for granted when we have them and that dominate our lives when we lose them.”

Kim Anderson, PhD: Spinal cord injury researcher (and a quadriplegic)

Spinal cord injury (SCI) disrupts communication between the brain and parts of the body below the injury.  The most obvious consequence of this disconnect is paralysis.   But there are many other ramifications of damage to the spinal cord.

SCI also affects the autonomic nervous system, the nerves that govern internal organs. A host of dysfunctions ensue. SCI alters cardiovascular function, respiration, gastrointestinal, lower urinary tract, sexual function and temperature regulation.  In short, everything we normally take for granted suddenly becomes a problem.

According to ICORD PhD Candidate Leanne Ramer, a recent survey of individuals with SCI identifies recovery of autonomic functions as a high priority for improving quality of life. For the majority of individuals, regaining sexual function, bladder function, bowel function, and cardiovascular control are top priorities.  Rated more important than recovering walking movement.

Many of these “secondary complications” to SCI are debilitating, chronic and life threatening.  Yet the great majority of SCI research continues to focus on “curing paralysis”.  ICORD is the International Cpollaboration on Repair Discoveries.  www.icord.org.  Based at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Research Institute, icord research is focused on not only cure but “QOL – to enhance the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury.”

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About Karen
Karen Koehler, partner at the nationally recognized law firm of SKW, blogs about all things related to spinal cord injuries...More
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Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief.

Can I see a falling tear.
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear.
An infant groan an infant fear?
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And not sit both night & day.
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Never, never can it be!

He doth give His joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
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