A Cahir mother was one of three people affected by a spinal cord injury (SCI) who lobbied TDs and senators in Leinster House last week on the condition.
Gretta Fogarty, mother of Shaun, aged 22, who has been hospitalised for 3 years, was part of the group that called on the politicians to deliver, as a matter of urgency on three key issues which affect the 1,800 people living in Ireland with a SCI.
On the invitation of Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Disability, Gretta joined Susan Campbell, Drogheda; Stephen Cluskey, Swords; and Fiona Bolger, CEO, Spinal Injuries Ireland (SII)e for the briefing.
According to the World Health Organisation, a SCI is acknowledged as one of the most devastating and life changing injuries that a person can sustain.
In Ireland 76% of people with a SCI are unemployed and 40% live on or below the poverty line.
An injury to the spinal cord can be sustained either traumatically as a result of an accident or sporting injury; or non-traumatically, as a result of illness, such as cancer.
On average, one person sustains a spinal cord injury every week. It can happen to anyone at any stage
"Spinal injury is a devastating realisation for those affected and I believe that legislators need to be more cognisant of the barriers faced by persons with spinal injuries, as well as their families and friends.
“The three issues highlighted by Spinal Injuries Ireland are very realistic aims which will make a huge difference to a person’s quality of life", says Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.
Spinal Injuries Ireland estimate that for every person with a SCI, there are an additional 10 people in their community of family and friends directly impacted. When a life changing injury occurs, the consequences are felt right through the local community, the injured person, family, friends, colleagues.”
The three issues highlighted were:
to list a SCI as a long term illness; by 2020, to deliver on essential services; and to enable SII to provide relevant supports and education so people with a SCI participate fully in society.
A spinal cord injury is not listed as a long term illness by the HSE. Many with SCI are in receipt of a medical card and SII is asking for SCI to be designated as a long term illness, so that fear of loss of access to medical care is not a barrier to those with SCI in seeking to rejoin the active work-force.