A bill that passed the California House overwhelmingly and is now before the Senate would restore state funding for spinal cord injury research.
The bill, AB 714 — the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act — would provide $2 million a year for spinal cord injury and paralysis research. The Act has been in place since 1999, but funding was removed in 2011 due to budgetary concerns. However, as the sponsor of the 1999 bill, Don C. Reed, points out, advancements made in spinal cord research could reduce public spending on spinal cord injuries, substantially offsetting the cost of the program.
Reed estimates that paralysis can cost an injured person anywhere between $225,000 and $5 million over his or her lifetime. In fact, the cost of spinal cord injuries, one of the main causes of paralysis, can be more than $5 million. Traumatic brain injuries, which are another main cause of paralysis, can cost upwards of $4 million.
As you can imagine, most people do not have the money to pay for that kind of care, and insurance can only go so far. Even if they receive large personal injury verdicts or settlements, many people who suffer from paralysis must seek state aid through MediCal, Medicare and other programs.
Reed notes that advancements in spinal cord research can go a long way in trimming the state’s healthcare budget, covering much more than the $2 million the program provides.
But there’s another reason to fund the research, Reed points out. If passed, the bill will offer renewed hope to individuals with paralysis and other spinal cord injuries. Advancements in spinal cord research made it possible for Reed’s son, Roman Reed, to use his arms again, something the doctors said would never happen. Perhaps someday, lifetime paralysis will be a thing of the past.