The spinal cord injury research team from the Medical University of South Carolina held a celebration of the Longevity After Injury Project in Minneapolis on June 7. Study participants and guests came together for the event.
The event celebrated 40 years of research for the study, which was started by Dr. Nancy Crewe at the University of Minnesota in 1973. Participants were proud of the knowledge and understanding of SCI and the changes that people with SCI undergo as they age that has been gained through their participation in the study. Several participants received awards for their longevity post-injury and their contributions to improving the lives of people with SCI.
When the study began, the idea of living for 40 years after a spinal cord injury seemed impossible. However, 26 people at the event have been living with SCI for over 40 years. The group included 10 SCI survivors who are at least 50 years post-injury. The group averaged 41.8 years post-injury, and most had lived for 30 or more years after their injuries.
The study has included more than 2,200 participants since 1973. They have collectively worked over 12,500 years and more than 22 million hours. Several have written books about their experiences.
The event was inspiring, even for people who have lived with SCI for decades. The participants have confronted many obstacles and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people with SCI. They have helped to achieve accessible environments, promote employment, and advocate on behalf of policies that create opportunities for people with disabilities. They look forward to the next generation of people with SCI building upon their accomplishments and living long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.