"The big news [in the survey] is the numbers," Heifitz said. Once the new statistics sink in, the hope is that policymakers can be convinced that they need to make some changes, he noted.
"Rehabilitation services are not adequate, in many cases," Heifitz added. Neither is access to proper equipment to help those who are paralyzed complete tasks of daily living and get to work, he said. "You are already trapped within your life," he said. "Without the help of aid you are more trapped."
Breaking down barriers to employment and daily tasks such as dressing oneself, is crucial, agreed Betsy Volk of Cincinnati, now 34, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a 1996 motor vehicle accident. "There are so many barriers to employment we can't often become employed," she said.
But she overcome those barriers and works as a program analyst for the U.S. Department of Energy on diversity and civil rights issues. Still, she said, access to services often falls short, especially in the area of home services.
To learn more about how those with paralysis can live a healthy life, visit the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
SOURCES: Joseph Canose, vice president, quality of life, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Short Hills, N.J.; Joel Heifitz, CEO, Concept Laboratories, Chicago; Betsy Volk, program analyst, U.S. Department of Energy, Cincinnati