Ventilator-Assisted Living©

February 2014, Vol. 28, No. 1



World Health Organization Releases
International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury

Joan L. Headley, Executive Director, International Ventilator Users Network, St. Louis, Missouri

It was through my colleague David Gray, PhD, Professor of Occupational Therapy and Neurology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, that I joined the advisory committee for a major project of the World Health Organization about perspectives on spinal cord injury. The document is written for the world in which every year between 250,000 and 500,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury, with road traffic crashes, falls and violence as the three leading causes.

People with spinal cord injury are two to five times more likely to die prematurely. I had the opportunity to review chapters looking for information about the option for ventilator use and to pass along the opinions of users of home mechanical ventilation. IVUN was specifically asked, “Do you think attendants of ventilator users should be required to have some medical training and should there be a method of certifying them?” We asked the question in February 2012 via internet posting to two ventilator user listserves. Respondents were those who used a ventilator as a result of disabilities such as SCI, post-polio, ALS, muscular dystrophy, etc.

Long-term ventilator users responded, with the following comments:.


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