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
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
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
Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland, 1980