Some victims of Spinal Cord injury say prevention is the best way to reduce the 20,000 annual figures of spinal cord injury in Nigeria.
They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on the sidelines of an event organised to commemorate the 2021 World Spinal Cord Injury Day.
NAN reports that it was organised by the Department of Neurological Surgery, Institute of Neurosciences, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, to mark the Day observed every Sept. 5.
Commenting, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajibola, a spinal cord injury patient at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said the cases could be reduced, if necessary action could be put in place.
Ajibola said that if necessary preventive measures were adhered to, the numbers of people with spinal cord injury from road crashes, estimated at 20,000 yearly by experts, would reduce.
Recounting his ordeals of ending up being on a wheelchair after spending five months in the hospital, Ajibola, a Graduate of Social Work at the University of Ibadan, said his vehicle was involved in an accident at Egbeda area of Ibadan.
“I was returning from Osogbo where I went to for a graphic design contract.
“But, the deplorable state of the road and speeding of the driver, made the 18-seater bus to tumble and somersaulted many times before it stopped.
“I don’t know how I was rescued, because I was unconscious for a long time, only to wake up and find myself in a hospital before I was later referred to UCH.
“My life has never been the same again, and if not for the care and help I received from the health professionals, I might not have been able to use any of my limbs, because the accident affected my spinal cord and I couldn’t use my limbs.
“The best way is to prevent spinal cord injury from happening as it changes one’s life completely and it is expensive to manage,” Ajibola narrated.
He further said there should be an enabling environment to make life more comfortable for victims of spinal cord injury.
Ajibola said that a combination of health professionals aided his recovery and called on the government to provide job opportunities for the physically challenged people.
Another victim of Spinal Cord Injury, Mrs Ajoke Alonge, also a Medical Social Worker at UCH, said that there were other causes of spinal cord injury, which she said might be congenital or unknown.
Alonge said her case was not as a result of road accident, adding that at age 14, she developed the injury and has been living with it since then.
She said that people with spinal cord injury could live meaningful lives, if they were well supported and cared for.
“Governments and individuals should provide an enabling environment and support should be given to make life comfortable for victims of spinal cord injury and other trauma,” Alonge said.
Commenting, a Neurosurgeon, Prof. Adefolarin Malomo, said that many of the road accidents occurrence in Nigeria could be avoided, if those in authority could provide good roads and the drivers take necessary precaution.
Malomo also stressed the need for Nigerians to be educated on how to handle victims of accidents, especially road accidents, which according to him, formed the larger percentage of spinal cord injury.
“Nigerians need to know that there had been a lot of improvements from health workers taking care of the patients with spinal cord injury, especially the involvement of a multidisciplinary holistic approach, which takes care of every aspect of the patient’s life.
“Nigeria has improved in quite a number of ways; we now have more plastic surgeons, more orthopaedic surgeons, neurological surgeons and more specialised nurses.
“The most important thing is to prevent this condition. We are unenlightened and we forget that we are responsible for ourselves and the environment that makes us.
“Some schools are doing it, but all schools should train students about civic and personal responsibilities, as well as participating where they found themselves,” the neurosurgeon said.
NAN reports that Prof. Amos Adeleye, had at a roundtable discussion of the Multidisciplinary Team, Department of Neurology, Institute of Neurosciences (UCH), said the most important thing was to prevent spinal cord injury from happening so as not to face the hard facts of life.
Adeleye said that brain was the most vital organ of the body.
According to him, once the spinal cord, which send signals to the body from the brain, has been cut off due to injury, then, it becomes impossible to function as one should.
“People should have information about spinal cord injury because when it happened, it is an injury for a lifetime. But, if it is a partial injury, there is hope for recovery,” Adeleye said.