During the decade of the 1960s, physicians and other medical professionals engaged in the treatment of spinal cord injury sought to align themselves as a group, in an effort to exchange ideas and work together toward the establishment of a model for care delivery to this patient population. The early 1970s brought support for the concept of a model of care from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (under the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare) which created the “model spinal cord injury systems” program. The program is now supported by the Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. It was out of this group the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) was created in 1973.
ASIA held its first official meeting in 1973, with twenty-one members present. Currently, ASIA has over 500 members. In 1974, attendance at the meeting was expanded to include non-physicians. The first formal scientific session was held in 1975 in New York City. That same year, the association incorporated in Illinois and the Central Office was opened in Chicago. Several years later, a second office was established in Atlanta, Georgia which managed the clinical meeting planning. In 2006, ASIA closed the Chicago office and consolidated its work in Atlanta, under the supervision of an Executive Director.
ASIA is governed by a Board of Directors, whose membership composition is reflective of the multidisciplinary nature of its members. There are twelve (12) Directors, four of whom also serve as elected Officers. Nomination to the Board of ASIA is accomplished through the Directors Nominating Committee, comprised of the immediate past-president (chair) and five others who are either current or past members of the Board. Nominations for new Board appointments are submitted to the current Board of Directors for final vote. Individuals nominated to the Board of Directors have demonstrated significant contribution to the association either by service on committees or the scientific program, or have made significant contribution to the field of spinal cord injury.