Oxygen makes spine-affected grandma walk again!

Login to Health July 9, 2018 Bone Health 270 Views

For Aruna, it was a difficult time. Her mother worked in another town and would come home only on weekends to meet her, enquire about her studies, cook food and then rush back to report for duty. At times, her mom wouldn’t be able to make it and would call during the late hours in the night, the hurried phone calls were eagerly looked forward to and Aruna often felt a pang of loneliness, on disconnecting. It was like a painful physical severing of a limb and longed to have a normal family life with parents and siblings, but fate had decreed otherwise. Aruna, being an only child was brought up by her maternal grandmom who kept the house clean and sparkling, looked after the laundry and was generally around for the little girl who by now was studying in Std 12, at a nearby college.

Aruna’s exams were around the corner and she would have to wake up by 5.30 am to study. Granny would be sleeping and only after an hour, wake up to do her pooja and make breakfast. As though she didn’t have a taxing routine of tuitions, extra classes and projects, she realised that her granny wasn’t quite her usual busy self. She wasn’t as alert as before, which Aruna attributed to old age, but she seemed to be drowsy all the time. Aruna made sure that her Granny would take all her vitamins and tablets on time and was quite non-plused about the reason behind her granny’s recent lethargy.

18th June. 6.20 am. A loud crash with the steel thali clanging onto the floor made Aruna literally jump out of her skin. With her Board exams about to begin after just two days, she needed all the time she could get to study. She ran into the kitchen to find her granny had slipped over some spilled water and wasn’t able to get up. Lying flat on the floor, with her eyes flickering, she seemed to be immobile. Aruna was alarmed, but didn’t panic. She ran to get help from her neighbours.

Two most crucial things in case of a spinal injury are timing and handling. Both of which were taken care of by Aruna who displayed presence of mind. Whilst trying to lift her granny, Aruna told her neighbours that they shouldn’t be moving her anyhow. In fact, early immobilization directly co-relates to recovery.

The spinal cord and neck are vital parts of the body that influence movement. 31 pairs of spinal nerves send and receive pain messages to the brain and control functions related to the heart, bladder and other organs like lungs. Injury to the spinal cord can therefore affect sensation and rob the affected person of walking or using hands.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury According to Spine And Pain Specialists

  • Road accidents top the list. Trauma also encompasses:
  • Falling from a height
  • Diving – with the head hitting the floor of the pool
  • Stabbing or bullet wound
  • Football and equestrian sports are also notorious for spinal injuries.
  • Inflammation
  • Infection tumour or anything that presses on the spinal cord or cuts off blood supply

It must also be remembered that few individuals happen to have a shorter spinal canal which places them in the high risk category for spinal cord injuries.

However, Aruna, needn’t have worried. By 7.00 am, the paramedics had arrived and with utmost care placed the patient in what looked like a harness to Aruna! It was a cervical collar and instrumental in immobilising the patient. A backboard can also be used for the same purpose, as movement at this stage could prove to be highly detrimental.

With her grandmom admitted to hospital, Aruna was tense about her studies getting neglected. Her mom somehow managed to get leave and this immensely served as a boost for Aruna. Of course, she would be alone at home, but she could focus on her studies, while her mom would meet the Spine and Pain specialist discuss treatment, procure medicines and look after her grandmom.

In fact, Aruna was pleasantly surprised when she walked into the hospital room, on a rainy afternoon after finishing a particularly difficult paper. Her mom informed her about a particular trial which showed how people affected with spinal cord injury benefit from special monitoring of oxygen. Called the hypoxia treatment, it involved patients being made to breathe low oxygen levels for as short periods as 60 -90 seconds intermittently, over a course of 40 minutes daily, spanning 5 days. Improved walking speed and endurance were the result which greatly relieved Aruna and brought a happy smile to her mom’s face as well.

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