There are over 2 million friends with spinal cord injury in India, making it, the capital with this disability, in the world. To prevent it from getting worse, take the Nina Foundation pledge today
NK, a 19-year old, was driving her brand new car to college along with her friend seated beside her. Suddenly on the empty stretch of road a drunken man materialised from nowhere and her first reflex was to avoid hitting him as she promptly swerved her wheel and the car slid over the road into the bushes. When she regained consciousness in the hospital, she realised her spine was fractured and she had lost all sensation and movement waist down. The biggest trauma that would haunt her for long was that her friend lost her life.
Her journey back on track took her and her family 10 years of aggressive rehabilitation, visits to different doctors and specialists and getting her spirit and energy back to restart her education, college and work. Her life was saved albeit with the most devastating and permanent disability - spinal cord injury.
NK is amongst the several lakhs who due to our over-crowded cities and vehicle traffic suffer road accidents. The irony of our country is that we have accurate statistics about how many people die due to road accident but NO statistics whatsoever regarding those who have a severe injury. Such injuries can be divided into:
• Head injuries
• Spinal cord injuries or
• Sometimes both
It is also surprising that a random survey of people shows how easy it is to bribe and get a driving license without a test. It is a flourishing business in most cities. Citizens are enticed to buy newer and newer models of cars with flimsy features, but no car manufacturer hands over a booklet citing “safety measures” while driving on our killer roads. India has the highest number of road accidents and now has the worst rate for road traffic accident worldwide.
With over 1.30 lakh deaths annually and 16 deaths every hour in road accidents, India has overtaken China. World Health Organization (WHO) in their first-ever Global Status Report on Road Safety reports this. It lists down speeding, drunk driving, non-usage of helmets and seat belts as the main factors.
According to the WHO report, a road accident is the second most important cause of death in 5-29 years old age group. Road deaths have increased by 40% between 2003 and 2008 in India. Also states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are the most affected.
Road safety experts indicate that the real number of deaths could be much higher since many cases are not reported, there is no estimate as to how many people are injured and die in a few hours per day post the accident, and their deaths are no longer linked to road traffic accidents (RTA).
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Road Traffic Accidents/Motor Vehicular Accidents/Mishaps- Whiplash Injuries
Fall from Height (fall from tree/ terrace)
Work Injuries: Fall of Load on Neck/ Back
Violence: Bomb Blast
Tuberculosis / Infections / Tumours
A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates the vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material, or ligaments, bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. Most injuries to the spinal cord do not completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy axons -- extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body. An injury to the spinal cord can damage a few, many, or almost all of these axons. Some injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others will result in complete paralysis.
How do Spinal Cord Injuries Affect the Body? It affects the
• Motor System
• Sensory System
• Temperature Regulation (Autonomic Functions)
• Sexual Function
• Mind- psychological trauma and depression. In fact no other injury affects so many parts of the body as a spinal cord injury- Mobility, Hot- cold- bite sensation, Skin, Bones, muscle strength, Urine and Stool Control.
There are over 2 million friends with spinal cord injury in India, making it, the capital with this disability, in the world.
Spinal cord Injury is a permanent disability transforming a person’s life and rehabilitation is the key to facing life with dignity in the world. The WHO has declared spinal cord injury as the most devastating disability in the world.
TAKE THE NINA FOUNDATION PREVENTION OF SPINAL CORD INJURY (SCI) PLEDGE TODAY!
In an effort to protect our children and the public from spinal injuries, a pledge has been created that you, your family and friends can take together. This pledge is being taken for Awareness and Prevention of SCI.
This movement has been created to bring awareness to drivers, pedestrians, sports people and the public and make our roads and community a safer place to live.
Please let us take this pledge:
I pledge to drive any vehicle safely with a valid driving licence at all times.
I will never drink and drive.
I will never use the mobile phone while driving.
I will follow all traffic laws and never indulge in over-speeding.
I will follow safety precautions like putting on seat belt (for cars) or proper helmet (for two wheelers).
I will always be aware of my surroundings.
I will check lights, brakes and tyre conditions before driving.
As a pedestrian, I will always look both sides of the road before crossing.
I will cross the road only from zebra crossing when the green light for pedestrian is on.
I will not use the mobile while crossing the road.
I will use footpath while walking.
I will hold small children's hand while walking alongside or crossing the road.
I will help the elderly or the disabled while crossing.
I pledge to ensure that all safety equipments are used while participating in any adventure sports. I will understand and follow rules and instructions while participating in these adventure and other sports.
I will help people as per the guidelines shared and learnt today if I am a witness to any of these incidents in my life.
Let us all come together and pledge to spread this campaign amongst more people and prevent spinal cord injury as well as pain and loss.
I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family & neighbours.
We at Nina Foundation propose three powerful ideas for immediate action:
All vehicle manufacturers to make the buyer undergo our pledge and also give the same in a printed laminated form in English and local language to be kept in the car for frequent reading.
A nationwide spinal cord injury REGISTRY to be actioned by Government hospitals and maintain these statistics to be widely circulated every week. As no records are available regarding how many people with spinal cord injuries are admitted in hospitals per week/ month/ year.
All the states with a high incidence of spinal cord injury to establish world class Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation centres for the resurrection of the young who suffer this devastating disability.
Recovery to normal is not guaranteed after most rigorous and expensive rehabilitation. Even living with deficit will require large sums of money and effort. So, it is prudent to thank lord for the healthy, fully functional body and take proper care of it. Let us save lives!
(Dr Ketna L Mehta is an educationist, editor, author and Founder Trustee of Nina Foundation that works for the rehabilitation of economically and socially disadvantaged people with spinal injuries. Her PhD Thesis was “Market Potential Study for a World Class Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Mumbai”. She is also Editor and Associate Dean Research, WeSchool. Dr Himanshu Doshi is Trustee of Nina Foundation with experience in general practice, emergency medicine, international offshore occupation health and safety. Email- [email protected], www.ninafoundation.org)