Understanding Spinal Cord Injury- SCI
Spinal cord is one of the most vital part of the human body. The spinal cord and the brain together make up the central nervous system that enables the nerves in sending and receiving of signals to and from the brain. An injury to the Spinal cord can cause temporary or permanent changes to spinal functions that are important for us.
Spinal cord helps the brain communicate with different parts of the body and is crucial for the body to work in a proper manner. Injury to the Spinal cord can result in damage to any part of the cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal.
People can lose control over their limbs due to Spinal cord injuries - SCI and it may result in permanent disability. The effects of SCI would depend on the place of the injury along the spinal cord and the severity of the injury. More than 1.5 million people live with SCI in India.
Spinal cord injuries occur when there is damage to the spinal cord or the vertebrae, ligaments or disks of the spinal column. Several reasons can cause damage to the Spinal cord such as driving related accidents, trauma, falls, sports, adventure activities, violence, other medical conditions like cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis etc.
Apart from limb control, paralysis, there are several other health and medical complications that can arise with Spinal cord injuries. Loss of bladder control, bowels, sensation in skin, respiratory issues, muscle issues, chronic pain, bed sores, sexual health are some major issues.
Spinal cord injury cannot be treated but only dealt with through rehabilitation. Considering the huge impact SCI has on lives of patients and their families, it is better to live more carefully and avoid recklessness. Drunk and rash driving is a huge cause of SCI, while there are cases where people don't take heed and jump or dive into shallow waters and damage their bodies. The effects can be devastating for them and their families.Nicky Kaur, Founder-CEO of Chandigarh Spinal Rehab
SCI can also cause depression and negativity as the rehabilitation process is time consuming and can cause the patients to feel frustrated and anxious.
There is no cure for Spinal cord injuries at present and patients are advised to undergo rehabilitation process to learn to deal with their lives after SCI.Physical and occupational therapy can help cope with SCI in some cases. Counseling can help gain a better perspective and provide some mental strength to SCI survivors.
International level wheelchair basketball player Nisha Gupta says that coping with the changes in life after a SCI is a challenge. Nisha Gupta suffered SCI after a fall and uses a wheelchair for mobility.
"A spinal cord injury changes the life upside down. It takes a long time for the affected person to accept the changes both mentally and physically. SCI comes with several other health complications such as loss of bladder control, bed sores that make everyday life a huge struggle. The lack of accessibility in public places makes it challenging for SCI patients to lead a better life and create hurdles," says Nisha Gupta.
Spinal cord injuries not only affect the patients but also the family and friends around them. The medical care, dependability on others, frustration and feeling of loss has a negative impact on the whole family. Patience and understanding can help provide some relief from the mental and physical problems.