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Spinal cord injury meet highlights voices of the disabled & future steps

February 16, 2018

It has been declared as the most devastating disability in the universe by the World Health Organisation. Yet, when it comes to awareness and rehabilitation about spinal cord injury, India has light years to progress

These were the key issues highlighted at a public forum on spinal cord injury organised by the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre and Nina Foundation in Mumbai earlier this month. Both organisations have been working for decades in this field and hosted the event at the request of the World Congress on Neuro-rehabilitation.

At the event were many stakeholders like the Mumbai Traffic Police, physiotherapists, institutional heads, professionals as well as people with spinal cord injuries themselves - their presence and voices underlining the critical need to pay attention to addressing the shortcomings in this area of disability.

What makes spinal cord injuries so devastating?

For one, as Dr Ketna Mehta, founder-trustee, Nina Foundation, pointed out, there is no cure.

"Spinal cord injuries are permanent and can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Some of the common causes are road accidents, falls, bomb blasts, terror attacks, swimming accidents, adventure sports, as well as natural disasters." - Dr Ketna Mehta, Founder-Trustee, Nina Foundation

Given that India has the highest fatalities due to road accidents in the world, the magnitude of the problem can well be imagined. Most complications occur immediately after the accident during the golden hour period, when intervention is most critical. "Depending upon the level of injury it causes, there can be paraplegia or quadriplegia", adds Dr Mehta. The only guaranteed solution to a good quality life for a victim is comprehensive, life-long rehabilitation.

Helping to amplify the needs of those disabled by this injury, were voices from those affected.

"You can get a spinal cord injury at any age. And it is important that at the hospital itself, there are social workers who can counsel family members about the concessions, grants and disability certificates that are available for the affected" - Bhavna Chheda, Spinal Cord Injury Patient

Some of the other issues that were raised was the need for accessible washrooms at public places so those disabled can led active lives. Experts also called for world class rehabilitative centres on the lines of IISC in other cities of India, so that every patient can realise their full potential.

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