Throughout the month of August, along with many of our partners, NorCal SCI conducted a survey of the spinal injury community. The survey was a bit on the long side but we wanted to get the type of information that would help us develop ways to better serve our communities. Nevertheless, we received 123 completed surveys and are now happy to share some of the high-level results with you.
To start with, the number of people in the U.S. with SCI has been estimated to be approximately 282,000 persons, with a range from 243,000 to 347,000 persons. In California, there are an estimated 25,000 individuals with SCI.
- In our survey, the age of respondents skewed older with about 72% being over 40 which is consistent with the rate of the national population. The rate of quadriplegics and paraplegics was virtually the same at 42% each. About one third had a complete injury while about 51% were incompletes. Though the rate of incompletes is lower than the national average, it has continually increased over the years as the first responders have become better trained, surgeons and medical facilities have improved their techniques in handling such cases and physical therapy has also improved.
- Vehicular accidents led the way as the reason for the injury by a substantial margin while falls and recreational activities followed.
- The percentage of the unemployed/unable to work came in at about 23%., pretty close to the national averages. Only about one third did not receive any governmental assistance programs.
- We were quite surprised that over 60% drove their own vehicles while the rest were unable to drive a vehicle or did not have access to one.
- We wanted to better understand the population's social media consumption habits. To no one's surprise, Facebook was the top platform used followed by Youtube. The vast majority are also using their smartphones to access e-mails or their social media platforms.
- When asked about the topics they're most interested in, it was exercise, SCI research & innovations, information related to long-term paralysis, equipment and travel as the top 5.
- Probably the best question that we were anxious to ask and learn about was the one about issues that challenge the population. A significant number (61%) identified ability to exercise as the number one challenge followed by travelling, pain management, physicians familiar with treating individuals with SCI, and attending outdoor activities.
We have shared this information with all the peer support groups in Northern California. Here at NorCal SCI, we'll be using some of this information to help us better focus our resources in areas that are clearly in need of attention and will keep you abreast of the strategies we'll be deploying on our own as well as in concert with our partners.