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FOREWORD

Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland, 1980 -1996

 

In 2001, the Icelandic government and World Health Organization sponsored a conference in Reykjavik focused on the treatment of human spinal cord injury (SCI). By serving on the planning committee for and speaking at this conference, I became aware of the tremendous progress we are making in treating SCI, a disorder once considered so intractable that its repair has been described as the Holy Grail of neurological research.

The cornerstone of this Icelandic-sponsored project is a belief that if we can open-mindedly integrate the divergent pieces of the puzzle that exist throughout the world - whether they originate in the US, China, Russia etc., whether they reflect the perspectives of Western or Eastern medicine, or whether they reflect the contributions of large medical centers or small clinics - restoration of function after SCI is a real-world possibility now and not just some distant, elusive possibility. Given this belief, this database of therapies pulls together for the first time a discussion of many of these divergent pieces within one resource.

I believe, however, that the amazing SCI-related medical and scientific advances of recent years should be considered within a more expansive human-rights context. Specifically, these advances represent one mechanism by which people with SCI can be meaningfully integrated into society and enjoy mankindís most fundamental freedom of self-determination. The overall goal of todayís exciting breakthroughs should not be viewed as making one whole again because the spirit is always whole. The goal is empowerment, freedom of self-determination, and the ability to manifest the spirit within.

As we evolve into a global community, access to information has become an all-powerful force in moving us forward and helping the disadvantaged, including the millions in the world with SCI. This resource was created in support of this goal.

I am proud that Iceland is playing a key role in this whole project.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland, 1980 -1996