• Immediate surgical intervention when needed, rehabilitation, physiatrist support andsome will power can help a victim recover enough to carry on a productive life.
  • Experts believe we need a better institutional support system for people with spinal injury in India

New Delhi, April12 , 2014: A spinal injury can be the most devastating thing to happen to anybody. If serious, it will not only confine you to your home for a long time but will change the course of your life forever. Yet, fighting back is the crux of life and rather than resign to the fate, victims must be encouraged to become self dependent and lead as normal lives as possible.

Most commonly, spinal cord injuries are caused by trauma and vary according to the intensity. They may be caused when a person suffers a fall from a height or a wound to the spine or sustains an injury while playing a sport. Spinal cord injury can also be caused due to a tumor that is compressing the nerves. The recovery too may differ from person to person, depending upon the nature of the injury. But while injury to any part of the body can be distressing, a spinal cord injury has a lasting impact, given the significance of the spine to the human body.

Often timely surgical intervention and a long-term rehabilitation process can help victims recover and even get back on their feet. An early intervention and right diagnosis can make all the difference for a victim.

At accident at a construction side left 31-year-old Rudra (not his original name) with paralyzed legs and loss of control over his urine/stool functions. A laborer, Rudra suffered a spinal injury when a wall collapsed on him in an underconstruction building. The spinal fracture led to pressure on his spinal cord and caused paralysis in his legs. It was a catastrophic injury that threatened to throw Rudra into a vegetative life. However, surgical intervention, followed by a rehabilitation programme, helped him recover.

“He was brought in to Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, in a sensitive condition with loss of motor function in the lower part of his body. We immediately decided to perform an emergency operation to stabilize his spine using screws and rods along with removing pressure from the spinal cord. As the surgery was performed well in time, the patient started showing excellent signs of recovery in the first week itself,” says Dr Dr Arun Bhanot, Chief Spine Surgeon, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, who led the team of specialists who operated on the laborer.

After three months of postoperative recovery and rehabilitation, he can walk and perform his daily activities independently and is thankful to God for his wonderful recovery. His example clearly proves that there is a life even after suffering from the disaster of spinal injury, if prompt medical advice and treatment can be provided using modern methods of early diagnosis and technological advances science has made.

“An important aspect of the treatment of spine injury is an immediate and correct diagnosis. It has been realized that diagnosis is the key to providing best spine care to patients. Though all spinal injury patients may not have such a happy outcome (like Rudra), still it’s worth trying to save each and every patient from the ignominy of living a life of paralysis,” adds Dr Bhanot.

The spinal cord is a collection of nerves that travels from the bottom of the brain down the back. These nerves form the system through which the brain sends vital signals to different parts of the body. An injury that causes a loss of sensation to a nerve effectively ends the brain signals that it carries. In many cases, it may result in loss of motion and paralysis.

At Paras Hospitals, doctors specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery also known as keyhole surgery that enables spine surgeons to treat a wide variety of spinal disorders through a small incision. Minimally Invasive spine surgery can help in treating spinal fractures, tumors, degenerative disc disease, and herniated disc, among other problems.

After the initial treatment achieves stability in the condition of the patient, most of the treatment is rehabilitative in nature. Traumatic spinal cord injury is the most devastating orthopedic injury, and hence rehabilitation of these injuries plays a significant role. The rehabilitation exercise is based on the aim of maximizing physical movement and functioning, increasing self reliance as much as possible, and helping the person physiologically to come to terms with his condition. Physical and occupational therapy, along with assistive devices will now play a major role in helping the patient become self reliant.

Often in our society, we look at people who have suffered from spinal injury and loss of locomotion with pity and hopelessness. This is a wrong approach. It is imperative to believe that each and every one of us has a contribution to make to society and victims of such an injury should get all the support possible that will help them play their roles.

Rehabilitation for spinal injury is a multi-disciplinary approach that includes physical therapy to increase mobility, rehabilitation nurses to help manage the bowel and bladder related problems associated with the injury, as well as psychologists to help the victim overcome the mental and emotional trauma. All this is done under the supervision of a specialist in spinal cord medicine, like a neurologist. In most cases, if function or mobility returns within six months, it is an encouraging sign.

“With therapy, with devices that assist movement and help make a person self reliant and with some social and institutional support, it is possible to help injury victims lead normal and productive lives. At Paras Hospitals, we believe in providing long term support to a victim to help them recover from the trauma and pick up their lives together. Yet, we believe that India will do with a more concrete and better institutional support system for people with spine injuries,” says Dr Bhanot.

Bouncing back to life and achieving a reasonable degree of self reliance is possible after a spine injury. Rehabilitation plays a crucial role, so does social support and will power. CCI Newswire


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