“The creation of ESCIF is an important step forward and of significant benefit for people in Europe living with a spinal cord injury. The close contact between the national organisations will allow an exchange of information and experience that will not only benefit people with SCI but also the physicians, therapists and researchers who work in this field.

In Scandinavia, we have always enjoyed a fruitful collaboration between the organisations and their members, and the professionals – now this relationship can be extended throughout Europe and across national boundaries. Personally I believe we will be able to develop better treatment for people with SCI by joining forces.

In particular, the executive committee of ESCIF has already shown great initiative in their workshop presentations at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society in Reykjavik, Iceland June 2007.”

Fin Biering-Sørensen, MD, DMScChief Physician and Head of Department Clinic for Spinal Cord InjuriesThe NeuroScience CentreRigshospitalet,Copenhagen University HospitalDenmark

“The medical & non medical effects of spinal cord injuries & disease are the most numerous, most complex and have probably the highest impact of all known conditions on individuals, partners, family members, employers, the community & society in general. Although it is fortunate that the incidence of spinal cord paralysis following trauma is one of the smallest of all catastrophic injuries, this low incidence can also be a source of diagnostic and management challenges to clinicians who are unfamiliar with the condition.

This is the main reason for the development of Spinal Injury Centres where larger numbers of patients are treated in order to develop & maintain the necessary expertise & to encourage peer support. However experienced a clinician or a patient is, it is unlikely that any one clinician or any one patient will appreciate all the problems of individuals with spinal cord paralysis at various stages of their lives. It is therefore essential that not only clinicians pool experience in their own society meetings, but also that patients and clinicians pool experience. This can only improve understanding, clinical outcomes and focus on meaningful research for both patients & clinicians.

The International Spinal Cord Society (ISCOS) & its affiliated societies is the main forum where clinicians meet, discuss & learn from each other. It is equally important, in my opinion, that there should be an “International Spinal Cord Consumer Society” to represent individuals with spinal cord paralysis and to have an influence on the development of services, as well as the direction of research, both nationally and internationally. With the medical & the consumer societies working together, it will be possible to achieve a great deal more a lot faster.

We operate in an international environment where, increasingly, it is the consumer who makes the choices and many of the decisions about service developments; without the consumer’s active participation the consumer loses. The importance of this cannot be over- emphasised for small volume, highly complex conditions such as spinal cord injury. In my opinion ESCIF could be the foundation stone of such an international consumer organisation and could wield a great deal of influence for the benefit of all individuals with spinal paralysis in Europe and, probably, eventually beyond.”

Mr Wagih S El Masry FRCS, FRCP
Consultant Surgeon in Spinal Injuries Director,
Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries
Hon Secretary & President Elect
International Spinal Cord Society (ISCOS)
RJ & AH Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen
Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 7AG