Reeve Foundation: 6 Million People Living with Paralysis

A recent study conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation revealed nearly 6 million people in the United States are living with some form of paralysis.

That equates to about one in 50 U.S. residents, the study said, adding that the 6 million total is "nearly 33 percent higher than previous estimates showed."

The study's findings were discussed in a press conference in Washington, D.C., on April 21, the same day a group of rehab suppliers and clinicians were on Capitol Hill as part of NRRTS' Continuing Education & Legislative Advocacy (CELA) event.

The report also discussed what sorts of medical conditions caused paralysis and how spinal cord injuries were incurred. The report's premise and data were created by the Foundation's Paralysis Task Force and the University of New Mexico's Center for Development and Disability over the last five years.

The Foundation's research declares the most common cause of paralysis to be stroke (29 percent), followed by spinal cord injury (23 percent) and multiple sclerosis (17 percent). Cerebral palsy was said to account for 7 percent of paralysis cases, with post-polio syndrome mentioned 5 percent of the time and traumatic brain injury and neurofibromatosis each accounting for 4 percent of paralysis cases.

Of those surveyed who reported they are living with paralysis, 36 percent said they "had a lot of trouble moving," and 16 percent said they are "completely unable to move." Of respondents, 46 percent said they have "some" or "a little difficulty" in moving independently.

The report concludes by advocating for continued research toward a paralysis cure, along with improved quality of life and availability of assistive technology for people living with paralysis.

To view the study's findings - available by in downloadable form - visit

This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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