Sunday, January 24, 2010

News Article About SCI in Haiti

Like most people over the last few weeks, it’s been hard not to go about my daily life without hearing about the latest developments trickling out of Haiti. But the reality of the whole situation snapped into a much sharper perspective when I recently read this ABC News article titled "Will Spinal Cord Injuries Fall Through the Cracks in Haiti" about the lack of proper medical care for Haitians who have sustained spinal cord injuries. In fact, even though living with a spinal cord injury plays a significant role in how I see the whole world, for whatever reason it didn’t even occur to me that spinal cord trauma would be a significant health issue down there until I read that headline. But it makes sense because incidents that involve the body getting crushed in building collapses, etc. stacks right up there with vehicle accidents, falls, and sports and recreation injuries (e.g. like my diving accident) as the most common ways to sustain spinal cord injuries.

Needless to say, any trauma to the spinal cord requires immediate care to prevent further paralysis and to stave off other related debilitating health issues. How the injury is handled in the first few minutes and hours can make all the difference. As I’ve discussed in detail already, when I had my accident that resulted in an SCI we had access to a phone, an ambulance took me away, I was immediately hooked up to an IV with medication, was given tests to reveal the extent of the injury, was given steroids to reduce the swelling, was put in neck traction to avoid further neck trauma, was provided with the proper nutrition, was set up with the proper alternative means to maintain bladder and bowel integrity, was monitored around the clock by medical personnel, had the proper surgery to stabilize my broken neck and prevent any further damage, worked my way through the rehab process in excellent medical facilities (e.g. an eight week stint at world-renowned Craig Hospital), etc. The point is that my spinal cord injury was dealt with at a high level of medical care under mostly optimum medical conditions.

But according to the article, it is speculated that people in Haiti who have sustained spinal cord injuries may not be getting the required medical response. Apparently, there is no infrastructure and resources to deal with those kinds of injuries under normal conditions, let alone in a post earthquake chaotic state of affairs. Moreover, it cites the fact that even before the earthquake the survival of people with spinal cord injuries in Haiti was dismal due to the lack of comprehensive spinal cord care. What is probably required the most in this regard is medical assistance from outside Haitian borders from doctors and other personnel who have the proper extensive training when it comes to the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Hopefully, there is already a plan in the works to provide the proper assistance and SCI related equipment needs.

Regardless, my heart goes out to those who have sustained such an unfortunate injury. Moreover, the thought of many of those folks being pushed aside for people with more obvious injuries, their injuries getting exacerbated by having their bodies dragged or carried without the proper neck/spinal stabilization, and that they may suffer much moreso in general due to a lack of even a fraction of the resources I was provided with makes me sick to my stomach. It’s a very scary thing to have happen and deal with under optimum medical circumstances let alone during chaos. As soon as I post this I think I will text a donation to the Red Cross in hope that it somehow reaches some of them. It will be sure to be a long, difficult recovery for many of those unfortunate people, especially considering the current lack of support systems and SCI specific equipment necessary to aid the rehabilitation process.

Of course, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation are all over this situation. You can read about it

No comments:

Post a Comment