Congressionally mandated in 1946, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) was established to provide a range of services to veterans who sustained spinal cord injuries or dysfunction. PVA represents 38,000 veterans and advocates on behalf of veterans, develops clinical practice guidelines, and funds research (PVA, 2003). In 1975, PVA created the PVA Spinal Cord Research Foundation to fund research to improve treatment and care for those who have sustained spinal cord injuries. The Foundation funds 1-or 2-year basic and clinical research grants, research on assistive device development, fellowships, and conferences and symposia (PVA, 2004). In addition to funding research, PVA also established the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine in 1995. The Consortium, which is composed of 20 international health professional organizations that focus on spinal cord injuries, develops evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for health care professionals and consumer guides.
The recently expanded mission of the United Spinal Association involves outreach, research, and advocacy for veterans and other individuals with spinal cord and related injuries. Begun in 1947 as the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, the organization became the United Spinal Association in January 2004. The Research and Education Department of the United Spinal Association works to promote research partnerships and facilitate the dissemination of research findings. The association funds clinical fellowships at several universities and VA hospitals and has worked to establish three professional associations, the American Paraplegia Society, the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers, and the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses, each of which has a program that provides seed grants for research.
Many international efforts are focused on research on spinal cord injuries and collaborative initiatives. A few of these are described below.
The International Campaign for Cures of Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis (ICCP) consists of eight affiliates5 that distributed more than $23 million
The eight affiliates are Spinal Cure Australia, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, French Institute for Spinal Cord Research, International Spinal Research Trust, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Rick Hansen Man in Motion Foundation, and Spinal Research Fund of Australia, Inc.