Today five spinal cord injury charities – Aspire, Back Up, Spinal Injuries Association, Spinal Research, and Spinal Injuries Scotland – have come together to celebrate Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day with their ambassadors for the day, Countryfile TV presenter Steve Brown and Paralympian Tennis player Lucy Shuker.
Today aims to raise greater awareness of spinal cord injury and how, with the right care and support, a fulfilled and independent life is possible after injury or diagnosis.
Steve Brown is a television presenter, public speaker and athlete mentor as well as a former member and captain of the Great Britain wheelchair rugby squad. He sustained his spinal cord injury when he was 24 after falling from a friend’s first-floor balcony. Steve is taking part because since his injury he has been passionate about talking openly about his injury, at the same time as achieving all the goals he set himself:
“Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is hugely important as it raises awareness about what a spinal cord injury is, highlights some of the issues that spinal cord injured people have to face and most importantly shows how life can still continue once you’ve sustained an injury. I myself have gone on to be part of the Paralympic team and I am now working in television as a presenter and I love it. I want everyone to know that there is life after spinal cord injury!”
Lucy Shuker is a British wheelchair tennis player who is the highest-ranking woman in the sport in Britain and winner of both singles and doubles titles in the National Wheelchair Tennis Championships. Alongside her career as an elite sportswoman, she is passionate about educating more people about spinal cord injury:
‘‘I’m supporting Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day because I’m a T4 paraplegic as a result of a motorbike accident when I was 21 years old. I’m now a full-time tennis player who gets to go around the world playing a sport I love, which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t had my accident. If you’ve recently been injured or diagnosed, there’s lot of organisations and charities out there who can support you to be the best version of you. And you can still achieve amazing things after a spinal cord injury. So much is possible.’’
A spinal cord injury is something very few people worry about – until it happens to them. There are currently 50,000 people in the UK and Ireland who are paralysed due to spinal cord injury. Recent research suggests that every eight hours somebody in the UK sustains a spinal cord injury.
While some spinal cord injured people can walk after their injury or diagnosis, many use a wheelchair due to paralysis. However, a spinal cord injury affects much more than an individual’s ability to walk. Many spinal cord injured people live with long-term pain, whilst issues managing bladder and bowel function are common. There are also social implications, such as needing adaptions to their home, and struggles with socialising and returning to work.
This Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, and every day, the five charities are working together to support not only the 50,000 spinal cord injured people in the UK and Ireland, but also their families, helping them to lead independent and fulfilling lives.