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Canadians Unaware of Staggering Cost of Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis National Survey finds

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Twenty-five years after the historic Rick Hansen Man in Motion World Tour to raise awareness about spinal cord injury research, accessibility and inclusivity, Canadians vastly underestimate the costs of treating and caring for people with spinal cord injury and other chronic illnesses that result in paralysis, according to a wide-raging survey conducted for The Rick Hansen Institute by Angus Reid Public Opinion.

Despite the widespread lack of knowledge about SCI indicated by this poll, Canadians still attribute high levels of importance to healthcare and scientific research, acknowledge that continued investment in this research is important, and feel positively towards organizations working to improve quality of life of individuals while reducing healthcare costs.

“Spinal cord injury continues to be one of the most expensive initial and ongoing health care costs in the entire medical system, yet most Canadians are largely unaware of SCI’s impact on individuals and society as a whole,” said Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute. An estimated 86,000 Canadians have an SCI, with more than 4,300 new cases reported each year.


  • The majority of those polled (87%) vastly underestimated the cost of SCI on Canada and its healthcare system, guessing the figure to be no greater than $100 million a year (about 3% of the actual figure of $3 billion a year)
  • Only 7% were able to identify the approximate number of Canadians who develop paralysis each day from stroke and spinal cord injury (estimated at 60 Canadians each day).
  • 89% of Canadians support continued investment to spur research that investigates new treatments applicable to multiple diseases and medical conditions.

“The survey shows that Canadians are undeniably supportive of scientific research, and are aware of the fact that many advances have arrived when science is supported by the public,” said Mario Canseco, of Angus Reid Public Opinion.

Infographics and other charts illustrating polling results are available here:

About the Rick Hansen Institute:
The Rick Hansen Institute’s goal is creating a world without paralysis after SCI. It works towards this goal by accelerating research and translating clinical findings into practical solutions to develop new treatments, improve care and reduce the cost burden on taxpayers.

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