Three out of four people who suffer serious spinal injuries after surviving horrific car crashes or other accidents cannot find work when their treatment ends.
Figures show about 40% are forced to live in poverty.
The findings were made by Ireland’s largest-ever study by charity Spinal Injuries Ireland into the long-term impact of the incidents which often leave people paralysed and confined to wheelchairs.
According to the report, despite high-profile campaigns by successive governments to address road traffic accidents and improve safety in high-contact sports — two of the most common causes of spinal injuries — little exists for helping victims to recover fully once medical treatment ends.
The study, based on the experiences of 400 of the 1,600 people living with severe spinal injuries in Ireland and can be read at www.irishexaminer.com, states 76% of those affected are unable to find a job once the injury occurs despite being qualified.
Due to this situation, which is far higher than the EU average of 49% unemployment and the 20% rate in Switzerland, 42% of spinal injury sufferers in Ireland are reliant on family members as “their main support”.
The situation was underlined by 26-year-old Ger Deegan, who has been paralysed and confined to a wheelchair since a car accident on December 15, 2012, when he hit “hit black ice and lost control”.
Since receiving extensive treatment at the Mater Hospital, the father-of-three children from Ballymun in Dublin has been unable to find work, meaning he and partner Andrea and kids have to survive on a weekly €380 disability allowance.
“We’re struggling, just trying to get by on the money we have... It’s impossible,” he said.
Spinal Injuries Ireland chairman James McCarthy said the difficulties are a “shameful reflection on society”.
nFurther information is at www.spinalinjuries.ie, firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01-2355317. The Spinal Injuries Ireland registered charity number is CHY 11535.
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