5.6 million Americans suffer from paralysis - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

5.6 million Americans suffer from paralysis

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A new survey, released Tuesday, provides a new look at the number of Americans dealing with paralysis.  The rates are 40% higher than experts had estimated previously.

The study, released by the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation indicates that 5.6 million people are dealing with some form of paralysis -- that's one in 50 Americans.

"Paralysis from all sources is dramatically more widespread than previously thought," said Christopher Reeve's son, Matthew Reeve.

The number one cause, according to the study, is stroke. Spinal cord injuries are the second leading factor, affecting 1.275 million people -- five times higher than earlier estimates.

"We've been trying for a long time to figure out how many people there are so we can go in front of Congress and the Senate and try to get necessary funds that are out there," said Alan Brown who has a spinal cord injury.

The study, conducted with help from top experts across the country, was a population based phone survey.  It used a broad definition of paralysis, including anyone who had a central nervous system disorder, that led to either "inability" or "difficulty" moving their arms and legs and relied on responses, not medical records..

"There'll be a lot of discussion about the numbers, the methodology, why are the numbers so high and a lot of that is going to require further research," said Dr. Edwin Trevalthan.

More research, and many hope, more support.

"It's really going to make a difference where the funding will come through to finally give people quality of life in order to live the way we're supposed to live," said Brown. 

Help for a group of Americans who say they've been underestimated -in so many ways- for far too long.

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