Debilitating illnesses and surgeries could cause irrevocable changes

Adhering to doctors’ advice on exercise, medicines and therapy helps

CHENNAI: J. Sudhakar (44) who was riding a motorbike in Kolathur got entangled in the twine of a falling kite. The manja (thread made from broken glass and chemicals and used to fly kites) severely cut into his neck region and as he tried to remove the twine, his fingers were also injured.

He underwent plastic surgery at a private hospital and was discharged recently. “He is very upset,” says his wife Bharati. “Doctors have advised therapy and it would be six months before he would feel sensations such as hot and cold in the injured hand.” She wonders if counselling would help as doctors have told him that the finer sensations might never return.

Construction worker Bharat (name changed), who is from Bihar, underwent a surgery to set right his spinal cord and has been recuperating for the last 14 months at a private hospital in Besant Nagar. After a fall from a building, Bharat was paralysed below waist and lost sensation in his legs. Doctors had to remove one of his kidneys as it was damaged during the fall. Bharat now walks with the support of a walker, but he will never be his normal self again.

K. Prakash (26), who was diagnosed with cancer, underwent surgery in the neck at a government hospital recently. But he continues to suffer from shoulder pain, for which he is being treated. He is on therapy at Lakshmi Pain and Palliative Care Centre on Poonamallee High Road.

Scores of persons like these patients will have to cope with residual deficits for life and need therapy that includes psychological support to manage their lives. “Psychological intervention such as emotional reassurance for persons with cognitive impairment and those with mild handicap is necessary so that they do not develop feelings of inferiority,” says psychotherapist G. Rajamohan.

“Post-acute care includes a range of services that a hospital cannot provide,” says consultant in physical medicine and rehabilitation S. Sunder. His in-patient centre is full with six patients undergoing treatment for various debilitating illnesses.

Even comparatively simple health problems such as low back ache and tennis elbow could alter a person’s perception of life, doctors say.

“Many women who come with complaints of low back pain have been neglecting their health for long. A time comes when the problem cannot be ignored. They are unable to identify their problem. When they talk a lot of things get solved,” says Mallika Tiruvadanan of Lakshmi Pain and Palliative Care Centre, which offers psychosocial therapy to its patients.

When life is irrevocably altered patients need therapy to improve quality of life and prevent secondary complications. The only way to maintain quality of life is to remain on therapy and continue the prescribed exercises, doctors say.