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Spinal cord injuries: prevention is cure

“Buckle up. We don’t want new members!” This was the message of members of the QuadPara Association of the Western Cape (QAWC) on World Spinal Cord Injury Day on Wednesday 5 September.

Three members in wheelchairs visited Engen Winelands 1-Stop North service station on the N1 to encourage motorists to buckle up and drive safely.

According to Esmé Kleinschmidt, administration manager of QAWC, they asked motorists to sign a pledge that they will fasten their seatbelts and drive with care. The motorists were also handed a licence holder branded with the slogan of the campaign.

“A total of 26% of all traumatic spinal cord injuries are as a result of a transport-related injury. Seatbelts can significantly reduce the chance of injury in an accident,” she says.

This year the theme for World Spinal Cord Injury Day is prevention, as the majority of these injuries can be prevented. Whilst there is a common saying that “prevention is better than cure”, where spinal cord injuries are concerned, prevention is cure, she says.

The prevention programme is now also being rolled out to rural areas, including Outdshoorn, Vredendal and George.

In addition, QAWC also ran a campaign called “Don’t Dive!” which deployed members at Harmony Park Resort in the Strand during the summer festive season.

“Each member of this team became quadriplegic after severely injuring their necks whilst diving into the tidal pools at this resort.

“In past years there has been an extremely high level of spinal cord injuries suffered by visitors to the resort.

“Our members are deployed to make the public aware of the dangers of diving through sharing their own personal experiences, and by distributing pamphlets. Our team monitors and approaches any individual they see attempting to dive into the tidal pools.

“We are proud of the fact that no catastrophic spinal cord injuries have occurred whilst our members have been deployed, and it is a prevention initiative the association will continue to run,” Kleinschmidt says.

“In South Africa the three main causes of spinal cord injuries are transport-related accidents, violent assaults and falls. “A spinal cord injury occurs when the spinal cord is damaged, often in an accident. When this happens, your brain can no longer communicate with the parts of your body linked to the nerves below your injury,” she says.

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