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4.2. American Spinal Injury Association

During the decade of the 1960s, physicians and other medical professionals engaged in the treatment of spinal cord injury sought to align themselves as a group, in an effort to exchange ideas and work together toward the establishment of a model for care delivery to this patient population. The early 1970s brought support for the concept of a model of care from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (under the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare) which created the "model spinal cord injury systems" program. The program is now supported by the Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. It was out of this group the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) was created in 1973.

ASIA held its first official meeting in 1973, with twenty-one members present. Currently, ASIA has nearly 600 members. In 1974, attendance at the meeting was expanded to include non-physicians. The first formal scientific session was held in 1975 in New York City. That same year, the association incorporated in Illinois and the Central Office was opened in Chicago. Several years later, a second office was established in Atlanta, Georgia which managed the clinical meeting planning. In 2006, ASIA closed the Chicago office and consolidated its work in Atlanta, under the supervisor of an Executive Director.

The mission of ASIA is:

  1. to promote and establish standards of excellence for all aspects of health care of individuals with spinal cord injury from onset throughout life.
  2. to educate members, other healthcare professionals, patients and their families as well as the public on all aspects of spinal cord injury and its consequences in order to prevent injury, improve care, increase availability of services and maximize the injured individual's potential for full participation in all areas of community life.
  3. to foster research which aims at preventing spinal cord injury, improving care, reducing consequent disability, and finding a cure for both acute and chronic SCI.
  4. to facilitate communication between members and other physicians, allied health care professionals, researchers and consumers.

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