By Ian Lucas MP - 6th March 2012
Ahead of tomorrow's Spinal Research parliamentary reception, Ian Lucas MP urges parliamentarians to learn more about the concerns of those afflicted with spinal cord injuries.
I first saw the devastating effects that spinal cord injuries can have on someone in my former life when working as a personal injury lawyer. I saw also how the right specialist treatment, promptly delivered, can in many cases help a patient walk again.
The reasons for the injuries varied from client to client and included road traffic accidents, sporting accidents and accidents in the workplace. At the very least the injury posed uncertainty and difficult challenges for the affected person and their families. At worst, it turned worlds upside down.
I helped form the all-party parliamentary group on spinal cord injury, which I chair, to promote greater awareness of the impact of spinal cord injuries and the importance of correct, prompt treatment. The group works closely with spinal injuries patients, medical specialists and related groups – in particular, the Spinal Injuries Association. The aims of the group are to look into issues faced by people with spinal injuries, particularly focusing on developments in treatments, as well as social care and wider issues.
The group has concentrated on the importance of specialised NHS spinal units. Initial handling of a spinal cord injury at the acute stage is critical to the chances of recovery, as is timing. Patients with trauma to the spinal cord who have decompression surgery within 24 hours of the injury have a much higher chance of improved neurological recovery than those who had to wait longer. Put simply, this means that less damage will occur to the brain and nervous system if patients receive this treatment.
The specialist centres which provide such treatment need to be protected, and the debate into this and related issues will only intensify as the government’s proposed reorganisation of the NHS continues to be contested.
Similarly, people with spinal cord injuries are very concerned about some aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill. Understandably, there have been calls from patients and medical specialists for reassurance and safeguards to help those most vulnerable.
Spinal Research does invaluable work. The UK-based charity funds medical research on a global scale, to develop reliable treatment for paralysis caused by a spinal injury. I am delighted to be hosting the Spinal Research Parliamentary Reception on Wednesday 7 March.
This is an opportunity for parliamentary colleagues to learn more about spinal injuries and their impact on their constituents. The event will provide a forum to discuss the current issues affecting those with spinal cord injuries, including developments in the treatment. This needs to be firmly on the political agenda. Please come along!
Ian Lucas MP is the Labour MP for Wrexham and Shadow Minister for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Lucas will be hosting the Spinal Research parliamentary reception on Wednesday, from 16:00-18:00, Strangers' Dining Room, House of Commons.