Chennai lacks a specialised rehabilitation facility and many public places are inaccessible to the wheelchair bound

For persons with spinal cord injuries, the city is far from being friendly. Not only is a specialised rehabilitation facility absent but also public places continue to be inaccessible for the wheelchair-bound, say people with such injuries.

“Only a handful of cities in the country has full-fledged rehabilitation centres for persons with spinal cord injuries. In Tamil Nadu, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore has one of the oldest facilities,” said S. Vaidyanathan, co-founder of Spinal Care India, a support group established in 2011 for persons with such injuries and disorders.

He sustained spinal injury in 1990 in a road accident. “Then, falls into open wells and from trees were among the highest causes of spinal injuries. Now, roughly 70 per cent are due to road accidents and about 20 per cent due to falls at construction sites. Spinal injuries result in multiple disorders including locomotive disorders. People lose the ability to walk and also bowel control,” he said.

The need of the hour was high quality rehabilitation centres in every city, including Chennai so that doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists are available, he said. A.S. Natarajan, member of Spinal Care India, said a lot can be done to improve the Government Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at KK Nagar.

“Wheelchair-bound persons have it difficult, whether at places of entertainment, shopping or even medical facilities. Measures should be taken to make the city friendly for such people,” he added.

Mr. Vaidyanathan added that steps should be taken to provide job opportunities for persons with spinal injuries. Forty seven persons with spinal injuries came together for a meeting convened by Spinal Care India on Saturday. This is the third year that the meeting is being held. Various aspects including job opportunities were discussed. A medical team from CMC interacted with the participants and conducted various medical tests.

“People can contact toll free number of Spinal Care India – 1800 425 1210 – for any guidance on rehabilitation and issues related to spinal injuries,” he mentioned.

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