COVID-19 Guidance for Our Spinal Cord Injury Community

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, communities and so much more, the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program is doing what we can to share resources and drive relief efforts with the SCI community.

Generally, COVID-19 is a respiratory (breathing) illness caused by a coronavirus. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu: they include fever, cough (dry or wet), and shortness of breath which may appear 2-14 days after exposure. As someone living with a spinal cord injury, you are at a greater risk of having severe disease.

It is important to practice proper health and hygiene, social distancing and to stay home as much as possible to reduce risk!  The following information and resources are specific to COVID-19 response and Spinal Cord Injury/Disability.  This is a growing list and will be updated periodically as new information comes in.

Prevention of the Coronavirus

  • Practice physical distancing (staying 6 feet away from others), avoid large groups, and stay home when possible. If you do stay home, it is important to know you are not alone and can access services or connect with your local SCI organization via phone, online or by other means
  • Call your doctor before you visit to let them know if you are unwell and have other health concerns
  • Wash your hands regularly with warm soap and water for 20-30 seconds
  • Clean all surfaces regularly that you touch every day including your phone, joystick and wheelchair armrests, tray, push rims…
  • Keep 30 days of medical supplies (catheters and dressing supplies) and medication on hand
  • Prepare your Emergency Kit

Attendant Services Issues

  • Consider asking your attendants if they do not live with you to wear a mask while in your home especially when they are providing physical assistance and are within six feet of you
  • Send attendants home who are not well
  • Ask attendants to wash their hands when they arrive and before they provide any assistance.
  • Be sure your attendants and you wash your hands after all assistance
  • Have a back-up plan if your attendant does not come to work or is sick. Plan ahead by taking THESE steps
  • Read CareAcademy’s COVID-19 Guide for direct caregivers

If You Are Sick, or Think You Might Have COVID-19

  • Isolate yourself at home if you develop respiratory symptoms
  • If you are experiencing any shortness of breath (especially persons with high level injuries) you should go to the hospital
  • Call your local public health authority for advice before going to the hospital. Please see Mount Sinai updates for patients: COVID-19 Facts and Resources
  • Read this information from the CDC on COVID-19 and its Symptoms
  • If you have a spinal cord injury and use a ventilator, c-pap, or cough assist device, speak to your health care provider or respiratory therapist regarding what precautions you, your family and attendants should take in your home
  • Clean your equipment and replace filters regularly as per your device manual
  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of filters and tubing

Stay Informed

  • Check the advice from your local governmental health authority every 24-48 hours. You can also text COVID to 692692 to receive that latest NYC updates.

Our Resources

Spinal Cord Injury Research Center Weekly Virtual Events: Our support groups are now virtual! 

List of Adaptive and Inclusive Home Workouts: We have identified the following adaptive fitness resources available online that you can access to help you stay active and healthy at home!

Nutrition and SCI during COVID-19 Resources: Our Complete nutrition guide during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mental Health and SCI Resources: Our Complete guide to your mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Infographics for food delivery and other resources: Putrino Lab created COVID19  inclusive instructions for ordering food to neurorehabilitation activities that can be done from home.

Fact Sheets

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) for SCI Fact Sheet

The Spread of COVID-19 & SCI Prevention

COVID-19 Guidance for People Living with Spinal Cord Injury

Wheelchair and Assistive Technology Users: PRECAUTIONS for COVID-19

Hand Hygiene for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

Navigating COVID-19 SCI Urology Guide

Self-isolation: Guide for Caregivers, Household Members and Close Contacts

What You Can Do If You Are at Increased Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19

COVID-19 Digital Mental Health Resources

Preparing for Disasters during COVID-19


Coronavirus (COVID-19) and spinal cord injury / disease and disabilities: Glen House, MD discusses the Coronavirsus (COVID-19) and the unique issues that need to be considered for individuals with a spinal cord injury/disease and other functional disabilities.

Ask Nurse Linda: COVID-19: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Ask a Nurse discussion on COVID-19 and SCI.

Respiratory Care (COVID-19): SCI Everything videocast discusses respiratory care for people with spinal cord injury during the current COVID-19 pandemic


SCI: Moving Forward A Response toCovid-19/Coronavirus: In response to the widespread effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the SCI community, the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium (NASCIC) created a 10-part webinar series where experts presented on the topics that matter most to people living with a spinal cord injury at this time..


SCI Everything: This podcast addresses topics related to spinal cord injury rehabilitation care, from hospital to living in the community. video cast can also be heard on YouTube: SCI Everything

Additional Resources

FAQs About COVID-19 and SCI/D: Dr. Thomas Bryce, medical director of our Spinal Cord Injury Program answers frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and SCI for New Mobility Magazine.

The Coronavirus and Spinal Cord InjuryTo better understand how a spinal cord injury increases your risk, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has put together a great resource for you to read through.

COVID-19 Resources for People with DisabilitiesThe following information has been gathered specifically to inform people with disabilities on the resources available to the population during NYC’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD): If you are a person with a disability with questions or concerns regarding NYC’s COVID-19 response you can reach out to this office.

Disability and Covid-19: Covid-19 guide for People with Disabilities and Older Adults

Center for Disability Rights: Action Steps for Attendant Service Users in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Medicare Coronavirus Update: Medicare expands coverage for telemedicine to help seniors and people with health problems stay home. 

MTA Coronavirus Updates: In response to COVID-19: Starting Thursday March 19, Access-A-Ride will no longer be scheduling shared rides. You’ll still be able to travel with a personal care attendant or guest.

COVID-19 Disability-Specific CoverageNew Mobility’s Disability-Specific Recommendations for COVID-19.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): What do Older Adults and People with Disabilities Need to Know?

Preventing COVID-19: Hand Hygiene for People with Spinal Cord InjuryThis advice is meant to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain supplies may be limited but you can still protect yourself and prevent infection using the cleaning products you have; soap and water is always better than nothing.

Wheelchairs Users should take these precautions for the COVID-19 Virus: Wheelchair user precautions you can take to stay healthy and safe!

Precautions for Wheelchair and Assistive Technology UsersPrecautions for COVID-19

NYC Free Meals: Three free meals will now be available daily for ALL New Yorkers in more than 400 Meal Hubs across the 5 boroughs. To find a location near you or text “NYC FOOD” to 877-877

Stores offering Custom Hours to High Risk Population: As a result of COVID-19 response, some stores have created dedicated hours for seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. Visit link for  a frequently updated list.

COVID-19 Nutrition and Shopping Guide: New Mobility guide to nutrition and shopping during the Covid-19 crisis.

ACL: Administration for Community Living has COVID-19 information specific for people with disabilities and older adults.

US Dept of Veterans AffairsNovel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Information

COVID-19 Coronavirus and Veterans: Paralyzed Veterans of America COVID-19 News & Resources 

COVID-19 Information: By and For People with Disabilities

Insurance and COVID-19 What to Know: Insurance providers are adapting coverage and services in response to the public health crisis created by the spread of COVID-19.

Invisible Hands Deliver: A free delivering service for those who do not feel safe leaving their homes during the COVID-19. They currently are making deliveries to Queens, Brooklyn, Jersey City & Riverdale.

Pets & Service AnimalsHow to Prepare your Pet or Service Animal for Emergencies

Note and Disclaimer

This guidance was created by experts in the SCI Community on April 9, 2020. This document is based on the best available evidence at the time of release. We can’t guarantee that the guidance is up to date or current as the pandemic is changing daily.