Just got the latest issue of Spinal Cord, the official journal of the International Spinal Cord Society. This publication is the mother ship for clinical research in SCI. Here’s an eye opener: “Risk of mortality after spinal cord injury: relationship with social support, education and income,” by JS Krause and RE Carter, both from the Medical University of South Carolina, makes the point that while death rates have fallen a bit in the very early years post SCI, the long term survival rates have plateaued. Why? It’s not necessarily because of medicine, perhaps, but more so because of one’s environment and income level.
Here’s the finding: low income people are at higher risk to die – those with incomes under $25,000 a year appear to have a 4.5 times greater chance of dying that those with incomes above $75,000. Poor social support is a killer too.
The equation is complex, of course, as medical issues and secondary complications of paralysis are the real villains. But there are policy implications here if the research continues to reveal socioeconomic peril in chronic disease. Makes a good case for the fundamental right to insurance, for universal access to good health care, and for in-home support services.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Find out more: The Reeve Foundation’s One Degree of Separation: Paralysis and Spinal Cord Injury in the United States