On Friday 18th May, five spinal cord injury charities – Aspire, Back Up, Spinal Injuries Association, Spinal Research, and www.sisonline.org – will come together to celebrate Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day with their ambassadors for the day, Lucy Shuker and Steve Brown.  

Lucy Shuker is a British wheelchair tennis player who is the highest-ranking woman in the sport in Britain and winner of both singles and doubles titles in the National Wheelchair Tennis Championships. Alongside her career as an elite sportswoman, Lucy is passionate about educating more people about spinal cord injury.

Steve Brown is a television presenter, public speaker and athlete mentor as well as a former member and captain of the Great Britain wheelchair rugby squad.  Steve, who is an ambassador for Spinal Injuries Association, sustained his spinal cord injury when he was 24, after falling from a friend’s first-floor balcony. Steve is taking part because since his injury he has been passionate about talking openly about his injury, at the same time as achieving all the goals he set himself.

He says: “Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is hugely important as it raises awareness about what a spinal cord injury is, highlights some of the issues that spinal cord injured people have to face and most importantly shows how life can still continue once you’ve sustained an injury. I myself have gone on to be part of the Paralympic team and I am now working in television as a presenter and I love it. I want everyone to know that there is life after spinal cord injury!”

Paralysis is something very few people worry about – until it happens to them.  There are currently 50,000 people in the UK and Ireland who are paralysed due to spinal cord injury. Recent research suggests that every eight hours somebody in the UK sustains a spinal cord injury.

While some spinal cord injured people do continue to walk following their injury, the majority of people use a wheelchair due to paralysis. However, a spinal cord injury affects much more than an individual’s ability to walk.  Many spinal cord injured people live with long-term pain, and bladder and bowel issues. There are also social implications, such as not being able to return home and struggles with socialising and returning to work.

This Spinal Injuries Awareness Day, the five charities are working together to support not only the 50,000 spinal cord injured people in the UK and Ireland, but also their families, helping them to lead independent and fulfilling lives.