New data estimates that 2500 people are injured or diagnosed with a spinal cord injury each year in the UK, not 1000 as previously thought.

This groundbreaking estimate comes from the Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire and Back Up, three of the leading UK charities providing support to spinal cord injured people. The charities are calling on the government to ensure that every person affected by spinal cord injury received the care and support they need and rightfully deserve to live a fulfilled and independent life.

The total number of people living with spinal cord injury in the UK is now estimated at 50,000.

The charities attribute these increased figures to improved reporting and record keeping, as well as a more inclusive definition of spinal cord injury. This now includes non-traumatic causes such as accidents and illness. Medical advances now also mean that life expectancy for people living with a spinal cord injury is now the same as non-injured people.

The nature of the injury has also changed. The NHS’s own data shows that the typical view of a spinal cord injured person as a young man involved in a motorcycle collision is reducing. In fact, more older people are sustaining spinal cord injury through falls in the home, injury, or being diagnosed with a condition such as cancer.

Research indicates that only 33-50% of recently injured people are able to access specialist NHS care, and those that do can expect lengthy delays.

Nik Hartley OBE, Chief Executive of Spinal Injuries Association said:

“The revelation that there are hundreds more people across the UK that are now known to sustain a spinal cord injury every year is stark.  But it is not just the increased numbers; it is the decreasing provision of specialist services alongside that, that is truly shocking.  The NHS and wider government must dramatically increase vital and extremely specialist health care and support to the 2,500 people each year who are having to come to terms with a life of paralysis from spinal cord injury. We will not stop fighting until that change in investment happens.”

For more information, please visit the Spinal Injuries Association website.