Patients with spinal cord injury warned of higher risk from virus

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Patients with spinal cord injury warned of higher risk from virus

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 | Staff Reporter | NEW DELHI

Noting that the patients of spinal cord injury are at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 virus, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), a premier super specialty hospital in the city, has urged the patients to keep themselves in isolation to avoid getting infected of Coronavirus as their bodies cannot respond to bacteria and viruses like a normal person can. 

Dr HS Chhabra, Medical Director of Indian Spinal Injuries Centre said that immunosuppression,  the body’s response to bacteria and viruses, is the main concern. Besides, some of them may develop other medical conditions or infections that can further complicate the situation, he said.

“Spinal cord injury patients, irrespective of their age, battle immunosuppression -- the way their bodies respond to bacteria and viruses is not as strong as a normal person because of decreased natural and adaptive immunity and reduced levels of molecules which participate in immune function and wound healing,” he said.

 Besides, some of the complications of spinal cord injury patients further compound the problem.  Urinary tract infection is a condition that more commonly affects the individuals who are catheterised -- they are at a higher risk of entry of viruses and bacteria into the sterile urinary system. Open pressure ulcers/sores are another avenue for viruses and bacteria to enter the body, Chhabra, said.

For patients of spinal cord injury, he suggested to perform three deep breaths followed by a cough at a minimum of four times a day to clear debris that enters the lungs. If you have an incentive spirometer from your hospital or rehabilitation stay, now is the time to use it if you can.

“Many individuals with higher-level spinal cord injury use their mouths to assist with activities. You will need to stop doing this when outside of your home as the mouth is a major way for COVID-19 to enter your body,” he said.

“Hydration is always important. Due to bladder programs, it can be difficult to take in more water than you are allotted. Do not overwhelm your system but try to take just an extra sip of water every hour when awake. This will create an increase in hydration in your body without much effect on your bladder program,” he said.

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