World Spinal Cord Injury Day: Majority of the cases are avoidable

The theme for SCI 2018 is ‘Stop Spinal Cord Injury.’ The theme is highlighting the importance of primary prevention in reducing spinal cord injuries. Primary prevention means to stop a disease or disability from occurring. The common saying is, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. But in fact, where a spinal cord injury is concerned, ‘Prevention is Cure’

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Spinal Cord Injury Day (SCI) is observed on 5th September every year with the objective to spread awareness amongst the general public. Increased awareness about SCI will facilitate an inclusive life for persons with disability and promote preventive programmes to stop spinal cord injuries.

This initiative taken by International Spinal Cord Society will not only help in prevention of this devastating ailment but also help persons with spinal cord injuries live a purposeful and meaningful life.

Primary prevention of SCI requires the cooperation and involvement of community, schools, multisectoral infrastructure providers and healthcare professionals.

Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine researcher said, “Spinal cord injury is a devastating condition and major burden on society and individuals, where patient have to depend on others to attend to their basic needs. As per a study done on prevalence of spinal cord injury (SCI), 23% cases were found to be among farmers, while 22% were labourers. Among the causes of injury, 53% patients sustained traumatic injuries due to fall from height and 28% suffered from road traffic accidents.”

“Holistic protocol is required to treat such cases, which includes intensive rehabilitation programme wherein, physiotherapy exercises and neuromuscular stimulation are advised,” he added.

The term ‘spinal cord injury’ (SCI) refers to damage to the spinal cord resulting from trauma or from disease or degeneration. Spinal cord injury (SCI) has devastating physical, mental, social, sexual and vocational consequences for the injured. The injury also increases the economic burden on the person who sustains a SCI and on his or her entire support network.

Dr Ajay Kothari, orthopaedic spine surgeon from Pune, said, “In many cases, it is carelessness, recklessness, ignorance or bad decisions that cause spinal cord injuries. Prevention has to come by strict enforcement of road traffic regulations and safety and protection for people working at heights. Road accidents, falls and sports injuries are common causes for spinal cord injuries and all these are avoidable.”

Prevent spinal cord injuries by:

  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle and use child safety restraints in the vehicle.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle.
  • Never drive a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or ride with anyone who has.
  • Avoid distractions (like phone calls, texting) while driving and pay close attention to the road.
  • Follow the speed limits and traffic rules.
  • Keep a clean home and eliminating fall hazards inside the house. Slips and falls occur frequently in the home.
  • When participating in sports, always use appropriate protective equipment.
  • Never dive into shallow and dirty water.
  • Use window guards to prevent falls
  • Use clinical interventions for risk factors, such as visual impairment, alcohol or substance use.
  • Safe road infrastructure, safe vehicles, proper enforcement of traffic rules, and timely and effective emergency care are essential components in reducing incidence of spinal cord injuries.