New Beginning Program Provides Backpacks to Newly Injured

NSCIA backpack

NSCIA is distributing backpacks to people with newly diagnosed spinal cord injury and disorders.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), the membership services division of United Spinal Association, recently launched New Beginning, an initiative to provide tools and resources to individuals with new spinal cord injuries and disorders.

Under the program, NSCIA is distributing backpacks to people newly injured or diagnosed with disorders such as multiple sclerosis who are leaving hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

“The common thread of our mission and that of the rehab process is to help the person reintegrate into their community as independently as possible,” said Eric Larson, senior vice president of NSCIA’s membership and chapter services, a program of United Spinal Association in East Elmhurst, N.Y. “So we combined our goal of reaching people with spinal cord injuries/disorders sooner with the need of the rehab hospital to arm their patients and their families with as many resources as possible before they leave.”

Based on a similar program conducted with great success by its New York City chapter, New Beginning deploys backpacks filled with information and consumer resources on mobility and medical equipment, disability benefits, accessible housing, leisure and travel, and health care.

NSCIA backpack contents

New Beginning backpacks contain information on equipment, disability benefits, accessible housing and more.

“It’s a balance between getting them the most critical info and resources now without overwhelming them with information they’ll need a year from now,” said Larson. “Our approach is to give them information and samples related to the hurdles and questions they are most likely to face early in the process, but establish ourselves as a continuing lifelong resource for all those other questions that will come up.”

The New Beginning backpacks, which are sponsored by Allergan, Permobil, Allsup, Beautlich, and Advanced Medical Group, are available through NSCIA member hospitals, which work hand in hand with local NSCIA chapters. A full list of NSCIA hospital members is available here.

The backpacks are also available through Spinal Cord Central or by calling (800) 962-9629.

In the future, Larson says NSCIA plans to launch New Beginning webinars to complement the information in the backpack.

“It’s important for people to understand that there will be new questions and new needs as time goes on, and forming the connection with NSCIA and other key resources early on is a big part of the ‘new beginning,’” Larson said.