By Jessica Richardson, PLS Intern | February 8, 2017


Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), alongside families and advocates, held a press conference in the Main Rotunda in support of SB 31 and spinal cord disability research. SB 31 would create the Spinal Cord Disability Research Grant Program to discover new and innovative treatments. The legislation would invest $1 million into the grant program.

Sen. Scavello thanked Rep. Marcia Hahn (R-Northampton) for supporting companion legislation HB 385, and Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) for being the chair of the committee where the bill presently sits. Both were in attendance.

“A minimal amount of money can have a long lasting effect on the lives of people with spinal cord injuries and spinal cord disabilities,” Sen. Scavello said. “This legislation gives people hope and opens up an avenue through research.”

Melissa Pitts, physical therapist from Nazareth, alongside Alex whose spinal cord was injured during delivery, advocated for the bill.

“Every day is a fight for us and every day he faces challenges within himself and architectural barriers,” Pitts said. “We are excited to have this bill brought forward as it gives us great hope.”

Dr. Michael Lane, associate professor at the Drexel College of Medicine, spoke on behalf of the scientists around Pennsylvania. According to Lane, Pennsylvania without question produces some of the most outstanding research in the field of spinal cord injuries. Lane did his training in Australia and said it is “internationally renowned what has been done in Pennsylvania.” The bill will improve the quality of research and support junior people, he said.

Matthew Rodreick, advocacy director for Unite2Fight Paralysis, traveled the world in search of the best therapy for his son who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2008 and became paralyzed and quadriplegic.

“12 states have a small seed funding mechanism to fund this kind of research to find curable therapies for paralysis, and where those states are doing that is where innovation is popping up.” Rodreick said.

Rodreick wished more people could be present but the community relies on caregivers and a healthy body which creates a challenge to come show support, he said.

“I can’t walk away from my son, and my son literally cannot walk away from his injury so we are committed,” Rodreick said. “[SB 31] has the real potential to change people’s lives with paralysis.”