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Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act Signed by President Obama as Part of Omnibus Public Land Bill

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation expresses appreciation to Congressional co-sponsors for passing first legislation specific to the paralysis community

SHORT HILLS, N.J. –MARCH 30, 2009 – The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the national, non-profit organization dedicated to finding cures and treatments for spinal cord injuries and improving the lives of people living with paralysis, applauds President Obama for signing the Omnibus Public Lands Bill. Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 25 and the U.S. Senate on January 15, Title XIV of the Bill contains the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act. The Act was named for the late Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana, whose courage and grace in the face of adversity, coupled with their extraordinary activism, were an inspiration to millions around the world.

The landmark legislation, which enjoyed bi-partisan support, will promote collaborative research, rehabilitation and quality of life initiatives for millions of Americans living with paralysis and spinal cord injuries. It was introduced in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-IA), who worked closely together with Christopher and Dana Reeve to promote expanded research and quality of life for people living with paralysis, particularly spinal cord injuries.

Peter T. Wilderotter, president and CEO of the Reeve Foundation, remarked, "In less than one month, with swift action, President Obama has twice expedited the promise of hope of medical research for so many. We commend his continuing commitment to improving the lives of millions living with paralysis."

Wilderotter continued, "The Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Act will expedite the search for cures and treatments for millions of Americans living with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, MS, Parkinson's and many other diseases and disorders. On behalf of the Reeve Foundation, I would like to express our appreciation of Senator Harkin, who for so many years has devoted his career to others. Senator Harkin has been a wonderful friend to the Reeve family and the Reeve Foundation. People living with paralysis all over this country are celebrating today because of his dedication and commitment to the disability community."

Wilderotter added, "In addition to Senator Harkin's efforts, we thank Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for initially sponsoring this important health bill. Also, I would like to express our appreciation to Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) for including the Reeve Act in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act and for his support of the paralysis community. In addition, we express our appreciation to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) for their resolve to bring this bill before the Senate.

"On January 8, 2009, Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced this Act in the House, along with her colleagues Congressmen Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Their extraordinary leadership and tireless efforts were instrumental in passing this historic legislation."

Wilderotter concluded, "Advancements are made every day in spinal cord injury research, but the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act will speed progress and make research efforts more efficient."

The Act has three components that support and enhance paralysis research, rehabilitation, and quality of life programs:

  • Paralysis Research - Expands research on paralysis at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This will encourage collaborative research by connecting scientists conducting similar work to further enhance understanding and speed discovery of better treatments and cures.
  • Paralysis Rehabilitation and Care - Builds on research to enhance daily function for people with paralysis, including a Clinical Trials Network, to measure effectiveness of certain rehabilitation tactics and encouraging shared findings on paralysis to improve rehabilitation.
  • Improving Quality of Life for Persons with Paralysis and Other Physical Disabilities - Works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve the quality of life and long-term health status of persons with paralysis and other physical disabilities.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders