Will Massachusetts fund spinal cord injury research?

Each year, thousands of people in Massachusetts suffer spinal cord injuries, often due to the negligence of others in car accidents. Sometimes these accident victims are able to collect damages from the person responsible through personal injury lawsuits, which can help compensate the victims for things such as medical expenses.

Spinal cord injuries can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia, but most often the injury results in conditions such as persistent back pain, numbness in the extremities, gait changes and bowel and bladder problems. Most of these conditions and illnesses can be improved with medical treatment, which continues to evolve over time.

Recently it was reported that a bill moving through the legislature in Massachusetts could mean more money for spinal cord injury research. The catch is that half of the money may end up going to the state’s general fund instead of 100 percent going to research as the bill originally intended.

The legislation involves the Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund, which was created in 2004 and was designed to receive money through the payment of a $50 surcharge on driver’s license reinstatement fees.

The recent legislative action proposed to increase the surcharge up to $100, but the bill was altered at the last minute to send 50 percent of the money to spinal cord research and the other 50 percent to support state programs paid through Massachusetts’ general fund.

A doctor whose son sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident proposed the original idea for the fund and believes that sharing the money is a product of a political agenda rather than a genuine interest in helping those suffering from spinal cord injuries.

The surcharge, which was intended to raise nearly $5 million for spinal cord injury research, contributed just $90,000 in the last fiscal year toward the research. The fund currently holds $330,000 which is not enough to conduct a serious research effort.

One lawmaker who was interviewed by a local reporter said that no final decisions had been made as of yet and the Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund still might be given a bigger portion of the surcharge money raised.

Hopefully that is the case because spinal cord injury research is a very important issue for many Massachusetts residents.

Source: MyFoxBoston.com, “Bill would take half of money meant for spinal cord research,” Mike Beaudet, Aug. 2, 2011.