Spinal Cord Injury and COVID-10: Staying Well

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International Days are celebrated to mark important aspects of human life and history. On the suggestion of its Prevention Committee, the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) has decided to observe ‘Spinal Cord Injury Day’ on 5th September every year with the intention of increasing awareness amongst the general public. It is presumed that the awareness would facilitate an inclusive life for persons with disability and ensure greater chances of success of prevention programmes.

Since its inception on 5th September 2016, the ‘Spinal Cord Injury Day’ has been meeting an increasing success around the world, under different slogans: ‘Yes We Can’ in 2017, ‘Stop Spinal Cord Injury’ in 2018, and ‘Living life to the fullest’ in 2019.

This year, our focus will be on the prevention of Covid-19 for persons with spinal cord injury, with the slogan “Covid-19 and SCI: Staying well”. The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for all, with or without disability. Persons with spinal cord injury are more vulnerable than others, and were left to fear severe complications and poor disease outcome. When confronted with protective measures and a lockdown, the physical, psychological and social needs of those persons in a wheelchair cannot be overstated.

Faced with this unique challenge, there has been a growing awareness of the role of social media to combat loneliness and disseminate appropriate information, involving health care professionals, communities, and more importantly consumers themselves. The way we are going to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath will most certainly pave the way for the future of persons with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities. Let’s hope it is for the best.

Events will be organized around the world, in as many countries as possible: please contact your medical centre or the local authority to know what is organized in your city.

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread. Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19. However, Spinal Cord Injuries might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness because of their underlying medical conditions.

SCI and the Risk

If you are SCI listed below, you might be at increased risk of becoming infected or having unrecognized illness. You should discuss your risk of illness with your healthcare provider.

  1. People who have limited mobility or who cannot avoid coming into close contact with others who may be infected, such as direct support providers and family members,
  2. People who have trouble understanding information or practicing preventive measures, such as hand washing and social distancing

Preparation for Covid-19 Outbreak

There are some additional things SCI can do to prepare during the COVID-19 outbreak:

1. Plan what you will do if you or your direct support provider gets sick. Create a contact list of family, friends, neighbors and local service agencies that can provide support in case you or your direct support provider becomes ill or unavailable.

  1. Plan at least two ways of communicating from home and work that can be used rapidly in an emergency (e.g., phone, text-messaging, email). Write down this information and keep it with you.
  2. Have enough household items and groceries so that you will be comfortable staying home for a few weeks, at least a 30-day supply of over the counter and prescription medicines and any medical equipment or supplies that you might need. Some health plans allow for a 90-day refill on prescription medications.

Prevention and precaution for Spinal Cord Injury Patients from Covid-19

Since its new, there is no immunity against it. Therefore, it is important that we practice preventive measures.

  1. Ensure provision of adequate hand washing facilities with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. Everyone MUST wash and sanitize before entry to these places and as frequently as possible.
  2. Ensure there is good ventilation and good respiratory hygiene in the workplace.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth at all times. Hands touch many surfaces including money which can be contaminated with the virus and you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
  4. Maintain a distance of 1 meter from anyone who is coughing or sneezing and remind them that they need to have a face mask to avoid infecting others.
  5. DO NOT SPIT in public. Identify secluded places like pit latrines or toilets for purposes of spitting and wash your hands immediately with soap and water.

Finally, Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something just because of your spinal cord injury. It’s sometimes just a matter of figuring out how to do it in a new way. Above all, never give up brian not legs.

– Comrade Yakubu Nazir Abdulhakeem
Chairman Arewa Spinal Cord Injury Survivors, Kogi State Chapter

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