U.S. Wheelchair Use Increases

Associated Press

The number of Americans confined to wheelchairs rose 57.7% between 1969 and 1980, according to preliminary findings of a study by the American Paralysis Assn. The latest U.S. population census in 1980 found 645,000 non-institutionalized wheelchair users, as compared to 409,000 in 1969, with motor vehicle accidents apparently responsible for the increase.

But other sources in the study indicate that the 1980 figures are too low, said Rear Adm. Dick Van Orden, vice president for research of the association.

"Few reliable statistics on the number of paralysis victims in this country exist," he said, "but our best estimate is 500,000 paralyzed by spinal cord injury alone, with up to 15,000 new cases each year."

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