Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day – May 14, 2023

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is observed annually on May 14 to raise the profile of people with spinal cord injuries in the U.K. and educate the public on its impact, effect, and treatment. Did you know that spinal cord injuries go as far back as 3000 B.C.? A spinal cord injury (S.C.I.) is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves. This injury often leads to permanent loss of strength, sensation, and autonomic function below the injury site. Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is an initiative by the Spinal Injuries Association, in partnership with Aspire, Back Up, and Spinal Research.

History of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

The first mention of spinal cord injuries was in the ancient Egyptian Edwin Smith’s papyrus from 2,500 B.C. The ancient Egyptian physicians described the injury as “untreatable.” The first treatment for spinal cord injuries occurred in ancient India, where Hindu doctors used traction techniques to straighten the spine. The Greeks also employed the same technique as the Hindus. For example, Hippocrates — born in the 5th century B.C. — developed traction devices that helped straighten patients’ spines. It wasn’t until the second century A.D. that Galen, a Greek physician, discovered the relation between spinal cord injuries and loss of autonomic function and sensation.

Paul of Aegina, born in 625 A.D., became the first physician to pioneer surgical techniques for spinal cord injuries. He employed laminectomy to relieve pressure on the spine and recommended using a windlass to reduce the dislocation. The notion and treatment remained the same until the latter half of the 20th century; physicians continued to believe that spinal cord injuries were incurable. Although during the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci and Andreas Vesalius, made contributions to S.C.I. through their accurate depiction of the human spine and nerves.

In 1981, the Canadians Albert Aguayo and Sam David ended the millennia-long belief that S.C.I. is incurable. Through experiments on rats, they showed that axons could regenerate in the central nervous system in the right environment. The introduction of imaging, surgery, medical care, and rehabilitation medicine in the mid-20th century helped improve the care for spinal cord injuries and increased the life expectancy of those living with the condition. Also, the creation of emergency medical transport services in the 1970s contributed to these improvements in S.C.I. treatment.

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day timeline

5th Century B.C.
The Invention of Traction Devices

Hippocrates invents traction devices to straighten S.C.I. patients' spines.

625 A.D. — 690 A.D.
The First S.C.I. Surgical Technique

Galen, a Greek physician, pioneers surgical techniques for spinal cord injuries.

1981
A Shift in Notion

Doctor Albert Aguayo and neurologist Sam David show that axon regeneration is possible in the right environment.

Mid-20th Century
Improvements in S.C.I. Care

S.C.I. patients' life expectancy improves with the introduction of imaging, surgery, medical care, and rehabilitation medicine.

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day FAQs

Where is the spinal cord located in our body?

The spinal cord runs through the center of your spine, from your brainstem to your low back.

What color ribbon is for spinal cord injury?

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day also has its unique ribbon color like every other awareness campaign. The ribbon color used for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is lime green.

What happens during a spinal cord injury?

A spinal cord injury prevents messages from the brain from reaching the area below the injury site. That can lead to loss of sensation and autonomic functions in the affected area.

How to Observe Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

  1. Organize community awareness program

    One way you can contribute as an organization on Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is to organize an awareness program discussing the effects and impact of S.C.I. This event can occur at your local community center or on online platforms such as Twitter Space or Facebook Live. The guest speakers should include medical experts and people living with S.C.I., and the audience has to be well-balanced. You can also organize games, fairs, and contests, inviting everyone in the community to attend.

  2. Support S.C.I. research and rehabilitation programs

    Make an impact by donating to S.C.I. research organizations, paraplegia rehabilitation centers, and non-profits helping people with S.C.I. live fuller lives. Spinal Injuries Association, Aspire, Back Up, and Spinal Research are a few of the organizations you can donate to. You can also volunteer with one of your local paraplegia organizations if you have the time.

  3. Share information on S.C.I.

    Even If it's just facts about spinal cord injuries in the U.K., you can inspire someone to take action for S.C.I. this Spinal Cord Injuries Awareness Day. Check the interesting facts section of this article to get started. If you know someone with S.C.I., you can also share their story to inspire other people with paraplegia.

5 Important Facts About Spinal Cord Injuries

  1. You can't sweat

    Spinal cord injuries break the connection between the spine and the sweat gland, causing irregular sweating.

  2. Some pee through their belly button

    Some people with paraplegia have holes in their belly button with a urinary conduit connected to a catheter that allows them to pass urine.

  3. Most of them are men

    About 82% of people with spinal cord injuries in the world are men.

  4. They can still have children

    People with spinal cord injuries can become parents despite their condition, however, men would have to employ artificial means to inseminate their partners.

  5. Life expectancy has arisen

    Compared to the early 20th century, the life expectancy of people living with S.C.I. has increased by about 2000%.

Why Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is Important

  1. It raises funds

    Spinal cord injuries have taken a heavy toll (emotionally and financially) on the individuals living with it and their family members. People can use Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day to raise funds for S.C.I. survivors and their families to alleviate their costs. Also, they can raise funds to contribute to research for S.C.I. cure.

  2. It celebrates people with spinal cord injuries

    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day shows comradeship to S.C.I. survivors. It sends a strong message to patients that their community –and, indeed, the whole human community –stands with them.

  3. It reduces cases of spinal cord injuries

    Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day raises awareness about the causes of S.C.I. and educates people on how to avoid the condition. This includes following the necessary safety precautions when in a vehicle, at the pool, during sports activities, or, generally, in every situation.

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day dates

YearDateDay
2022May 14Saturday
2023May 14Sunday
2024May 14Tuesday
2025May 14Wednesday
2026May 14Thursday

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