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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Five paralysed in earthquake spinal-injury toll

Five paralysed in earthquake spinal-injury toll

Last updated 05:00 07/03/2011
 
 
Five people have been left paralysed by the earthquake.

Back and spinal injuries have been the most common, says the ACC, which has received more than 280 injury claims for injured backs or spines.

Burwood Spinal Unit consultant Dr Raj Singhal said Christchurch Hospital saw three months of spinal injuries in one day.

Of five patients with spinal-cord injuries, four were paralysed and one had partial paralysis.

Another 18 to 20 people broke vertebrae, but nerves were not affected so they would walk again. Six or seven had to be operated on, while others were put in braces.

Singhal said one spinal-cord patient had spleen removed in a life-saving operation and had been transferred to intensive care in Wellington.

A woman had a "nasty fracture of the neck" and was transferred to Auckland with her daughter, who was also seriously injured.

The mother was able to move her arms and legs, which was "good news", Singhal said.

One patient was an incomplete tetraplegic and would probably walk again.

He said the injuries were suffered in several ways. One woman had a chimney fall on her, another had a crush injury and one was pulled from a collapsed building.

Spinal-cord patients would eventually return to Christchurch for three to six months of rehabilitation at Burwood's specialist unit, Singhal said.

Overall, Christchurch was lucky as the number of spinal-cord injuries could have been higher, he said.

An ACC spokeswoman said the corporation received 20 spinal-injury claims.

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