PESHAWAR, April 12: The country’s only Paraplegic Centre at Hayatabad here is starting free surgeries on patients suffering spine injuries due to accidents and other mishaps.

A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect has already been signed between the centre and Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) under which the latter will depute a surgeon to operate upon patients at the centre once in a week.

The centre has been providing free medical, physical, occupational, vocational and psycho-social rehabilitation services to people with spinal cord injuries from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and rest of the country. The centre’s chief executive officer, Mohammad Ilyas, said that a senior orthopaedic surgeon would operate upon the patients free of cost.

“We are finalising arrangements and have floated tenders to purchase desired equipment,” he said. During past eight years the centre has increased the number of beds for patients from 25 to 78. The centre was set up by the ICRC in 1983 for rehabilitation of persons with spinal cord injuries.

This centre also follows up on its patients at their homes after discharge as in five districts, including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan and Swabi, a project had been started to help the patients in their villages.

“We are modifying the homes of our patients in line with their needs. The project has benefited over 100 people in the designated districts,” he said. Mr Ilyas said that if not treated and rehabilitated at the earliest the spinal cord injury could lead to severe complications like disability, multiple pressure ulcers, contractures, stiff joints, repeated urinary tract infections, bladder stones and urethral fistulas.

He said that unfortunately young, hardworking and poor people were more vulnerable to spinal cord injuries, which often caused severe depression and psycho-social issues. He said that on average a patient had to spend over three months to be able to become a productive member of the society. This limits the centre’s ability to treat and rehabilitate the growing number of patients visiting the centre, he said.

The introduction of spine surgery at the centre would decrease the rehabilitation period, which would not only increase the number patients to be admitted and operated upon, but also considerably reduce the per patient cost of the centre.

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