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Coronavirus and Spinal Cord Injury


This is the first of many updates we will be aiming to give to all spinal cord injured people across the UK.  We are aware that the situation is changing daily and so we will attempt to update our members and all people affected by a spinal cord injury on as regular a basis as possible.

We are aware that many of our members, people with spinal cord injury (SCI), their families and professionals will be concerned about the emerging Coronavirus epidemic and how it might impact on you.

SIA has already contacted the Department of Health & Social Care, all Spinal Cord Injury Centres, NHS England and the Chief Medical Officer to gather information, ensure that they are aware of the particular vulnerability to virus’ experienced by SCI people and seek assurances that they are putting appropriate plans in place to mitigate these needs.

  • We will keep our community informed of all updates from that work.
  • We will also be re-deploying elements of our peer support, nursing and advocacy teams to offer telephone-based support to all SCI people who have concerns related to their spinal cord injury that they are concerned is at risk because of the Coronavirus.

As an initial response please see:

  • Summary Advice below on Coronavirus for people with an SCI.
  • A more detailed first fact sheet in this series for your information.
  • A dedicated line to take questions and link you to our support teams as appropriate for further advice and support: 0800 980 0501
  • Regular social media updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages using the hashtag #CoronavirusSCI

Updated Advice on Coronavirus for people with a spinal cord injury

We are seeking confirmation that the NHS consider and therefore will respond to SCI people as ‘a high risk category’ in relation to the Coronavirus and its likely impact, as many SCI people have a reduced immune system and/or respiratory issues that make them more susceptible to respiratory infections. This will mean all advice and support through 111 and 999 will be treated as a priority case.

In all enquires about Coronavirus we recommend SCI people state that they are spinal cord injured and therefore potentially a higher risk category for support.

It is as important to note that an SCI person is at no greater risk of contracting Coronavirus than the general population,

We advise all SCI people, their families, friends and carers to:

Rigorously follow the advice published by NHS England/Health England which is to:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if water and soap is not available.
  2. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  3. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

If you are worried that you may have contracted Coronavirus or are displaying any symptoms, you should call NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 Coronavirus website at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19.  Do not visit your local GP, health centre or Specialist Spinal Injury Centre unless advised otherwise by 111.

If you are concerned about the quality of your SCI related care whilst being treated for Coronavirus, please contact our helpline on 0800 980 0501.

Have a Plan B:

    1. Download a copy of our Personal Care Booklet.   We will shortly be releasing a clinical guide on what to do if you are admitted to hospital to ensure your SCI needs are met whilst admitted.
    2. Have a contingency plan in place in case your carer or personal assistant falls sick.

Return to our website regularly where we will update information, advice and support we are carrying out on a regular basis.