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Know the history and significance of World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

In India, a wheelchair rally is conducted at Rajpath, inclusive cultural programmes are organised across the country, relevant messages and information are spread with the help of radio campaigns.© Shutterstock

As we celebrate World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day today, here is a brief history of the day for you. Read on to know what all it stands for.

Written by Juhi Kumari |Published : September 5, 2019 7:48 PM IST

Every year, September 5 marks the celebration of World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. The aim of this initiative is to spread awareness about and make life easier for patients with spinal cord injuries. The intention behind it is also prevention of spinal cord injury through different awareness programmes globally. The theme of World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2019 is 'Living Life to the Fullest'.

This theme highlights the importance of recreational activities like wheelchair basketball, gardening, photography, graphic arts, fishing, music, etc. in promoting the health of patients suffering from spinal cord injury.

History of World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

The initiative of celebrating World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day was taken by International Spinal Cord Society in the year 2016. This was done to make lives of patients with the condition meaningful and purposeful. It aims at bringing some positive changes in their lives. The idea behind choosing September 5 as World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day was to include patients with this injury in outdoor activities.

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This is the time when almost every part of the world enjoys pleasant weather. And globally, outdoor activities can be possible for patients with the condition. Also, at this time of the year, almost all schools and colleges remain open allowing the probability of involvement of the young generation as well. Since its inception, the day is commemorated in 35 countries every year.

Significance of World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

According to WHO, every year around 40 to 80 cases of spinal cord injury are reported per million population globally. And, most of these cases are due to traumatic causes. Spinal cord injuries can make people paralysed, leave them devastated, and increase economic burden. As most spinal injuries are non-curable, it becomes important to prevent its prevalence as much as we can. In case of almost every other diseases and conditions, we can say that 'prevention is better than cure'. But in this case, 'prevention is cure'.

Proper rehabilitation can improve quality of life of spinal cord injury patients

On the occasion of World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, let us look at the process of rehabilitation of patients to promote inclusiveness. People with spine injury need rehabilitation. And, thanks to a new rehab process in Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, it is now considered to be one of the best campuses that provide world-class facilities to patients with neurological and medical disorders like spinal cord injury.

It is a teaching hospital that delivers specialist rehabilitation. World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day also focuses on providing patients with resources to enable them to life a normal life. This can lead to a sense of independence in patients. What they actually need is physical and non-physical therapy methods. And that requires careful use of medical, social, recreational, educational, and vocational services.

How to celebrate World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day

All events and activities organised by different organisations and world bodies on World Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day are geared to foster an inclusive life for patients with spinal cord injuries. In India, a wheelchair rally is conducted at Rajpath, inclusive cultural programmes are organised across the country, relevant messages and information are spread with the help of radio campaigns. Additionally, various awareness programmes are organised in medical colleges all across the country and the world.

This year, society members of International Spinal Cord Society, including the Australian and New Zealand Spinal Cord Society (ANZSCoS), will organise various activities to spread awareness about accessibility for people with a spinal cord injury. These programmes will also aim at reducing barriers in their daily lives.

What is a spinal cord injury?

By spinal cord injury, we mean damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves present at the end of the spinal cord. This injury can potentially cause permanent changes in some of your body functions. It can reduce your strength and sensations. This kind of injury can also affect you mentally, emotionally and socially.

A spinal cord injury is characterised by symptoms like loss of movement, loss of bladder control, difficulty in breathing, intense stinging sensation, etc. Spinal cord injuries can be caused due to various reasons like damage to the vertebrae due to an accident, a sudden, traumatic blow to your spine, a gunshot, knife wound, fall, diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis and inflammation of the spinal cord, etc.

The risk may increase if you are male, between the ages of 16 and 30 or older than 65, if you engage in risky behaviour or/and you have a bone or joint disorder. Post a spinal injury, the damage or changes may be overwhelming, but a rehabilitation team can be of some help.

The team will help you manage your symptoms and address the changes caused due to the injury. They will provide you certain equipment and resources that can potentially improve your quality of life. Some of the common complications that are observed in patients with spinal cord injury involves problem in bladder control, bowel control, skin sensation, circulatory problems, erectile dysfunction, depression, etc.

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