According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are more than a quarter of a million people with serious spinal cord injuries. Each year, about 12,000 join the list of catastrophically injured individuals who suffer paralysis and possible impairments to vital functions, such as breathing and bowel movements, as well as suffer the emotional and psychological pain resulting from a quality of life that has been suddenly shattered.
It is hard to believe that not so long ago, the overall health implications of life-threatening spinal cord injuries were largely neglected. Yet, thanks to the groundbreaking research over the past 25 years that has been led by Dr. William A. Bauman of New Rochelle, the medical profession’s understanding and treatment of serious spinal cord injuries has vastly improved. It is work that has been saving lives and improving the quality of life of veterans, which was instrumental in Bauman, along with his colleague Ann M. Spungen of Bronxville, in recently winning the Samuel J. Heyman Science and Environment Medal.
What the general public may not appreciate is that this is one of a number of seminal research studies that have long been undertaken and supported by Veterans Affairs at its James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, where Bauman is director of the Rehabilitation R&D National Center of Excellence for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury.
“In fact, since the Bronx VA was established in the 1940s, it has attracted the best and brightest minds to undertake investigations in a number of clinical areas,” Bauman said.
Bauman said he was mentored by Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine who also was the VA’s most senior medical investigator. “She is one of several towering scientific investigators who laid the foundation for this center’s reputation for breakthrough medical research,” he said.