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16 April 2012| PR 12/69

Study of spinal injury patients in care homes to be presented to Parliament

Wheelchair

Loughborough University academic Dr Brett Smith is to highlight the plight of the many spinal cord injured people who spend up to two years living in elderly care homes at a special event at the Houses of Parliament this evening (Monday 16 April).

Up to one in five of the 1200 people in the UK paralysed each year are moved to a care home following rehabilitation whilst they wait for their existing homes to be renovated for wheelchair use or for suitable accommodation to be found. Around 70% of spinal cord injury patients are men, and many are under 40 years old.

Dr Smith, from the University's School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, will argue the case for Local Authorities to do more to adequately house those with spinal injuries, and to speed up the time it takes to get them into an accessible, suitable home once they leave hospital.

The event has been organised by spinal injury charity Aspire who recently commissioned Dr Smith to undertake independent research in this area.

In a study of 20 spinal cord patients aged 24 and over living in care homes, he found a general lack of belonging, widespread depression, feelings of being isolated, a loss of hope, suicidal thoughts, and uncertainty of the future.

Dr Smith explains: 

“Through extensive rehabilitation, spinal cord patients are given the resources to live independently after their life changing trauma. For the 20% who find themselves moved into care homes – albeit on a temporary basis – the impact on their physical development, health and psychological wellbeing can be devastating and can even lead to attempted suicide.

“We hope to highlight this issue amongst key figures within housing, as not only does it impact on the rehabilitation and health and wellbeing of those with a spinal injury, but by providing housing sooner there are also major cost savings to be made.”

Alex Rankin, Director of Services at Aspire, says:

“Every eight hours in the UK, someone is paralysed by spinal cord injury. There is no warning, no time to prepare, and no cure for the damage done.

“With so few properties in the UK being accessible to wheelchair users, it’s no surprise that many people find they cannot return to their own home when they leave hospital. Worryingly, every year, hundreds of people with spinal cord injuries are forced into totally inappropriate housing situations; robbing them of their independence at the very time they are trying to rebuild their lives.

“The work by Dr Brett Smith and his team will go a long way in showing the full extent of the damage that is caused by placing people into unsuitable housing. With this evidence, Aspire will be better able to help people with spinal cord injuries get the accommodation they need, giving them the independence and opportunities in life that most of us take for granted.”

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Monday April 16, 2012 15:17