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AAOS Now

Published 12/1/2014

NASS Launches New Research Foundation

The North American Spine Society (NASS) has established the North American Spine Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to end spine-related disability through research, education, and advocacy. The announcement was made during the NASS 2014 Annual Meeting, held in San Francisco.

“Spine-related disability affects all people, outpacing diabetes, lung cancer, tuberculosis, preterm birth, and malaria as the leading cause of suffering worldwide,” said Michael L. Reed, DPT, OCS, the foundation’s executive director. “The North American Spine Foundation is uniquely positioned to lead the charge to reduce the medical, social, emotional, and financial devastation of spine-related disability globally.”

Over the past decade, the rate of spine-related symptoms has not changed, but the degree of spine-related disability has steadily increased. This is due to the fact that spine-related disability is not just a medical issue; rather, it stems from a combination of occupational, psychological, social, and medical factors.

Although the impact of spine-related disability is greatest for those who personally experience spine problems and impaired function, the indirect impact on society is significant, as the following statistics indicate:

  • Spine-related disabilities will develop in approximately 30 percent of employees during their lifetimes. Those affected may experience unemployment and financial losses that can bring their incomes closer to the poverty level.
  • U.S. employers incur annual productivity losses for spine-related disability equaling $28 billion. At the societal level, $357 billion of U.S. public funds is spent annually supporting those who are disabled. Spinal disorders are recognized as a major contributor to this cost.
  • At the onset of disability, personal finances immediately begin to dwindle, regardless of subsidies and public assistance. For all claimants, disability leads to a 23 percent decline in annual earnings and an 11 percent reduction in after-tax income.

During its first year, the foundation anticipates offering $90,000 in spine research grants and hosting a Spine Foundation Research Summit for researchers and other key stakeholders. In its second year, it plans to offer $300,000 in research grants, including funding a pilot cohort treatment study with employer cooperation.

For more information, visit www.spine.foundation