The answer may lie in research underway at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Neurological Institute – research that in the summer of 2018 received a transformational $10 million gift from the Belford Family Charitable Fund.
“A wheelchair is one of the most symbolic hallmarks of spinal cord injury – when we think of spinal cord injury, we think of paralysis,” said Philip Popovich, PhD, chair of the department of neuroscience at Ohio State and director of Ohio State’s Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair. “But if you ask people ‘What are the top three things you wish you could change about your life with a spinal cord injury,’ they will list a whole host of other things before they talk about paralysis.”
A spinal cord injury puts a person at higher risk for high blood pressure, incontinence, infection, obesity and diabetes – all things that can make day-to-day living difficult. And then there is the threat of an early death: Largely because of these secondary issues, the mortality rate for people with spinal cord injuries has not changed in more than 20 years.
The Belford Family Charitable Fund gift will allow researchers to focus on the type of innovative science necessary to improve those rates.