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A report by the World Health Organization said that a half-million people suffer from spinal cord injuries each year throughout the world. While many people might think of spinal cord injuries as resulting in the loss of motion in a part of a person’s body, injury to spinal cords can also result in a person having loss of bowel, bladder and sexual function, as well as mental health conditions.

Many of the issues associated with spinal cord injuries can result in a reduced quality of life, and might lead to reduced life expectancy, with the worse survival rates in low and middle-income countries.

Spinal cord injuries often require emergency care and those who suffer from long-term effects of spinal cord injuries might also need recurring therapy and treatment just to maintain their overall health.

People who suspect they have experienced a spinal cord injury should seek emergency help, but in some countries that help is not available. The treatment options can even be limited for some people living in remote parts of the country and in areas of West Virginia where health care requires a long drive. Sometimes even if a person hours to seek medical care, the facilities might not be equipped to treat spinal cord injuries fully. A family might incur additional expenses if they need to move to an area where their family member can get proper treatment or if they need to alter their house to make it more accessible for the victim of a spinal cord injury.

Source: Voice of America, “WHO: Up to 500,000 Spinal Injuries Annually,” Joe DeCapua, Dec. 2, 2013