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Who is the National Spinal Cord Injury Association?

In order to assist the 7,800 individuals who sustain a SCI each year, and the 400,000 persons living with spinal cord injuries, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association was established in 1948. The NSCIA has many chapters throughout the United States. Some members have physical disabilities while others do not. Chapter members participate in a variety of activities. They work with local and national officials and agencies to develop better programs and services and act as community advocates for improved access, housing, transportation, employment, and leisure time activities for disabled people. Peer support and other services are also provided. These are fundamental aspects of living that 500,000 people with spinal cord injuries or diseases must cope with after they have been rehabilitated and have returned to community life.

More and more persons are getting involved in activities of the NSCIA. Through the collective efforts of staff, chapters, board members, and other volunteers, the Association is improving care, producing results in research, and addressing everyday living issues that confront all people who use wheelchairs.

The Association serves not only persons with spinal cord injuries but also persons who have diseases or conditions, the effects of which are similar to those of spinal cord injuries. Multiple sclerosis, which affects young adults, is one example. Friedreich's ataxia, which manifests itself during teen-age years and appears to run in families, is another. Spina bifida develops before birth during growth of the fetus. Varying degrees of paralysis often result. The individuals affected frequently use wheelchairs and therefore must cope with many of the same problems that confront persons with spinal cord injuries.

NSCIA has three basic program goals:

1 The National Spinal Cord Injury Association assists in the development of regional systems of comprehensive and integrated care, treatment, rehabilitation, and community living. The purpose is to serve individuals who become paralyzed as a result of spinal cord injury. Activities include: 
  • Promoting ideal standards of care;
  • Documenting and coordinating resources at the local level;
  • Providing care consultation services to persons who have recently experienced spinal cord injury and their families;
  • Educating professionals about proper methods of providing care and rehabilitation;
  • Providing an information and referral service to individuals interested in learning about spinal cord injury through a toll-free National Information Line (800-962-9629); and
  • Implementing a program of public education that focuses on prevention of spinal cord injury and abilities of individuals who have been paralyzed as a result of SCI.
2 The National Spinal Cord Injury Association supports and encourages research aimed at improving care for persons with spinal cord injury and developing a cure for spinal cord injury and disease. The following activities support these objectives:
  • Promoting and funding neuroscientific research;
  • Promoting improved clinical care through professional education and support of research conducted by other agencies and organizations; and
  • Facilitating exchange of information among scientists.
3 The National Spinal Cord Injury Association pursues resolution of issues related to the everyday lives of paraplegics and quadriplegics. Problem areas include access, housing, transportation, employment, and leisure. Activities are carried out primarily through the chapter structure of the Association. Specifically, chapters:
  • Provide peer and family counseling on a person-to-person basis;
  • Help through personal contact to motivate individuals with spinal cord injury to establish realistic goals in regard to employment, education, transportation, and adaptation to wheelchair living;
  • Distribute information to persons with paraplegia, quadriplegia and other disabilities about equipment, personal care, special devices, and other important resources; and,
  • Advocate elimination of barriers to independent living for persons who use wheelchairs for mobility.
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