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Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act Signed by President Obama

In March 2009, President Obama signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first legislation specific to the paralysis community. The Act was part of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill and named for the late Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana, who inspired people around the world with their courage in the face of adversity.

Christopher Reeve, star of the popular Superman movies in the 1980s, became paralyzed in an equestrian accident in 1995. For the rest of his life, he lobbied for stem cell research on behalf of those with spinal cord injuries. He created the Christopher Reeve Foundation to speed up paralysis research through funding. Reeve passed away in 2004.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act was introduced in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-IA) and received bipartisan support. It will promote research, rehabilitation, and quality-of-life initiatives for the millions of Americans living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.

Peter Wilderotter, president and CEO of the Reeve Foundation, said, “The Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Act will expedite the search for cures and treatments for millions of Americans living with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, MS, Parkinson’s and many other diseases and disorders. On behalf of the Reeve Foundation, I would like to express our appreciation of Senator Harkin, who for so many years has devoted his career to others. Senator Harkin has been a wonderful friend to the Reeve family and the Reeve Foundation. People living with paralysis all over this country are celebrating today because of his dedication and commitment to the disability community.”

Wilderotter continued, “In addition to Senator Harkin’s efforts, we thank Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for initially sponsoring this important health bill. Also, I would like to express our appreciation to Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) for including the Reeve Act in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act and for his support of the paralysis community. In addition, we express our appreciation to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) for their resolve to bring this bill before the Senate. On January 8, 2009, Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced this Act in the House, along with her colleagues Congressmen Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Their extraordinary leadership and tireless efforts were instrumental in passing this historic legislation.”

“Advancements are made every day in spinal cord injury research, but the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act will speed progress and make research efforts more efficient,” concluded Wilderotter.

The Act has three components which support paralysis research, rehabilitation, and quality-of-life programs:

The Paralysis Research initiative will expand research on paralysis at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and encourage collaborative research by connecting scientists conducting similar work to further enhance understanding and speed discovery of better treatments and cures. The Paralysis Rehabilitation initiative will build on research to enhance daily function for people with paralysis, including a Clinical Trials Network, to measure effectiveness of certain rehabilitation tactics and encouraging shared findings on paralysis to improve rehabilitation. The Paralysis Quality-of-Life initiative will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve the quality of life and long-term health status of persons with paralysis and other physical disabilities.

Christopher Reeve was injured in an equestrian accident, but the leading cause of paralysis, by far, is automobile accidents. Auto accidents account for 44 percent of spinal cord injuries.

If you or someone you love has been paralyzed in an accident which you believe happened due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact Michael L. Neff at (404) 531-9700 to hold negligent parties accountable for your accident.