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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Chairman, my amendment proposes to add $15 million to the RDT&E in the Defense Health Program for the purpose of augmenting the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

Spinal cord injuries are a serious combat-related condition affecting many of our servicemen and -women. In response, Congress established the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program in 2009 to support research into regenerating and repairing damaged spinal cords and improving rehabilitative therapies.

More than 30 years ago, when I was first injured with a spinal cord injury, I was told that I'd never walk again and that you just can't repair the spinal cord. Well, now, some 30 years later, we know that that is not accurate. In fact, it is no longer a question of if we can repair spinal cords, but when. This offers great hope to our men and women in uniform who have been the victims of a spinal cord injury in combat. In fact, recent research promises to make the repair of spinal cord injuries a reachable goal in the very near future.

In one study released earlier this year, in fact, rats with severe spinal injuries were able, following a groundbreaking new treatment, to walk, run, and even climb stairs. Scientists in charge of the trial said a similar approach could be used on human patients with spinal injuries, with a clinical trial possible within 1 or 2 years.

This and other research provides real hope to our military servicemembers and veterans who have suffered severe nervous system damage while defending our freedom, as well as the 1.275 million Americans estimated to be paralyzed as a result of a spinal cord injury. But without sufficient funding, these therapies will not be able to undergo further development or clinical trials.

The research is real and shows incredible promise. There is a genuine and exciting possibility that we can soon repair these debilitating injuries that affect so many. I believe that we must make sure that momentum is not lost and that the benefit of decades of research into spinal cord injuries is realized.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I just want to thank my good friends, Chairman Young and Ranking Member Dicks, and the committee staff for working very closely with me on crafting this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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