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Back & Spinal injuries Canterbury Earthquake February 2011

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 08:58 PM

Five paralysed in 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.

#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:26 PM

A very brave and courageous woman, however may we suggest, as her husband said, that she tries not to run over people's toes and feet as it is a very painful experience for the person on the receiving end and known to result in injuries.

Her body's numb but her spirit is strong
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2012

POSITIVE THINKING: Helen Grice, here with daughter Charlotte, was paralysed in the February earthquake but says "Good things are going to happen for me."
Christchurch Earthquake 2011

Helen Grice may have lost the use of her legs on February 22, but she did not lose her spirit.

Sitting in her power wheelchair in her Fendalton home, Grice lifts a finger and points straight ahead: "I'm putting a stick in the sand and saying that way is forwards.

"I'm telling myself not to look to the past but to concentrate on the future because it still feels like good things are going to happen for me."

The 50-year-old mother of four was paralysed from the bra line down when her children found her crushed beneath the chimney in her home after last February's quake.

But, she believes her life sentence does come with a few positives.

"Now that I'm a cripple, I get the front row parking at the shopping malls," she says laughing.

Grice holds no resentment and feels relieved she was the only one in her family that was hurt in the disaster.

"I've lived 50 years, I married my childhood sweetheart, I have four kids and, if anybody had to be hurt, I think it worked out pretty well for our family to be honest."

She is unabashed about her new disability and has no qualms referring to herself as handicapped or a cripple.

"It's the shock value of the word, I guess. When people see me they know I'm crippled, but if I tell them I am then it's no longer awkward."

To illustrate her point, she talks about a light-hearted public argument she had a few months ago with her husband of 26 years, Ben Grice.

While the pair were shopping in Farmers he told her she needed to have better control of her wheelchair because she was either running over his feet or knocking over stands in the store.

When Grice turned and said: "That's cripple abuse you know!" a shocked passerby could not help but burst out laughing.

"There are some good times still."

In the past year Grice has been transformed from a protective mother of four to a "middle-aged toddler".

She has control of her arms but the lower two thirds of her body are a "dead weight with a mind of their own".

She needs an extra set of hands to wash herself, go to the toilet, brush her teeth and even help her roll over in bed.

Ramps have been built at the family's temporary home while they wait for their quake-damaged Clyde Rd property to be repaired and adjusted to fit her needs.

A carer comes to the Grice household twice a day to help Grice get dressed in the morning and hoist her into bed at night.

But, unfortunately there have been "emergency moments" where her children and husband have had to step in.

"I don't want my husband or my kids to have to be my nurse. They have their own lives to live and I don't want to slow them down. But sometimes I have to."

Grice has accepted she will be left at the sidelines, watching many of the significant events in her family's future.

But, after facing her own mortality on February 22, she is grateful to just have the chance to bear witness to the milestones and grow old with her husband, who was her first boyfriend at only 17.

If anything, Grice says the past 12 months have brought her and Ben closer together.

He sat and held his wife's hand for the eight days she spent on life support.

On February 22, with his wife in hospital, he "took to the crumbled chimney with a sledgehammer" and removed every single brick from the property.

During one of her low points, when she told him he "had not signed up for this and it was OK to ask for a divorce", he told her she was being "an idiot".

There have been many poignant moments over the past 12 months that have shaped Grice's new life:

The days doctors walked into her hospital room, lifted her bed sheets and asked her to wriggle her toes every day for weeks after the quake.

"Am I tap dancing yet?" Grice used to ask.

The first time she was told she would never walk again.

The first time she caught her reflection in a wheelchair.

"I remember thinking, 'Is that me? Is that what I look like now?'"

The first time she realised "Bloody hell, I'm never going to leave a footprint again".

The first time she went grocery shopping and realised she could not reach items on the shelves or in the freezers.

Or when her 18-year-old daughter, Charlotte Grice, came running into her hospital ward in high heels and ball gown to get a photograph with her mum before her year 13 school ball.

Grice spent two weeks in Christchurch Hospital and six months in Burwood Hospital and has since developed type 2 diabetes from her injuries.

Her journey has been a "wild rollercoaster" but her family have joined her for the ride. They supported her through days of utter exhaustion, extreme frustration and deep depression.

Her youngest child, Henry, 16, found her on February 22. Her eldest son, Matthew, 25, rang for an ambulance from Auckland. Her daughter, Charlotte, cooked dinner for the family in her mother's absence and her son, Simeon, 20, moved home to support his younger siblings.

When the quake struck, Grice was in the family room, looking at the climbing roses in her backyard and wondering how she was going to trim them.

She was thrown to the ground and immediately thought of the chimney, which EQC told her days earlier was only being "held up by gravity".

She crawled for her life as it crashed through the roof bringing brick, plaster and wood raining down.

Henry, 15 at the time, ran down the stairs and lifted a piece of gib board to find his mother crushed underneath.

"She looked up at me and went to speak but all she could do was spit out blood," he says.

Henry and his cousin, Rupert, 16, dragged every item out of the freezer and covered Helen in frozen peas and meat to try to numb the pain.

"I was conscious so I had a choice. I could either get hysterical and scream in agony or I could take it calmly and breathe through the pain. I had two frightened teenagers with me and I was trying to keep the situation under control," she says.

With the help of six workers from a neighbouring property, she was freed from the rubble and placed on the ground with an ironing board at her back for support.

Her back was broken, as were her neck and ribs.

One of the workers, Move Logistics driver Dave Chivell, sat holding her hand for the 3 1/2 hours it took for an ambulance to reach her.

A year on, Grice's spirit is uplifting.

The aftershocks in Christchurch serve as painful reminders but she does not want to abandon her city and has hopes to see it rebuilt in her lifetime.

Grice spent months grieving for what had been but is now looking toward a future she had never imagined.

"I made a promise to my husband that I would stay alive and I'll embrace whatever I have to to honour it.

"That's the way it has to be."

#3 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:36 AM

Wheelchair users find Christchurch humiliating
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012

Some paraplegic earthquake survivors have tumbled out of their wheelchairs as they push their way around Christchurch's "inaccessible" and rugged terrain.

Wheelchair-bound paraplegic Bev Edwards is fed up with crash-landing out of her chair in public.

She is also fed up with what she calls inaccessible kerbing, steep footpaths and narrow car parks for the disabled littered throughout the city.

And she questions placing automatic teller machines in front of car parks for the disabled.

"It's human for able-bodied people to quickly pull up and use the ATM," she said.

The Christchurch nurse, who lost the use of her legs in the February 2011 quake, said the rebuilt city needed to better cater for the disabled, especially as the community had swelled since the quake.

She was last tossed from her wheelchair and left "humiliated", sprawled on the pavement, two weeks ago.

She rode down an exit ramp from a Colombo St shop and her front wheels jarred against the footpath lip, launching her from her chair.

Edwards has also been knocked to the ground at the Bush Inn Centre in Upper Riccarton while trying to make her way through the car park.

Despite grazing her wrists and elbows, she said, her body was not as bruised as her ego.

Fellow survivor Helen Grice, who was paralysed from the bra line down in the quake, has had her share of wheelchair scares. She has found herself veering dangerously towards the gutter while riding along footpaths and being forced on to busy roads because of a lack of footpath access.

The "sheer gruntiness" of Grice's powered wheelchair had saved her from some "very scary wobbles".

She was irritated by the city's narrow mobility parks, which were not big enough to cater for her modified van and automatic ramp.

At times, Grice has been so frustrated that she "swears like a sailor" looking for parks and has become so "disheartened" she ends up going home without even getting out of her car. "I feel like there is no place for me. We are just so limited to the choices we can make."

Both survivors hoped rebuilt Christchurch would be more disabled-friendly, but feared officials might try to "cut corners".

"Accessibility is something the city needs to look at very, very closely.

"There is not at all enough consideration for the disabled in Christchurch," Edwards said.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit's draft Accessible City transport plan was unveiled last month and promised rebuilt Christchurch would be "a more accessible and safer built environment" for not just the disabled, but also the elderly, the young and those with temporary mobility issues.

"Greater accessibility should occur as public buildings, roads and footpaths are rebuilt to comply with current standards, which require more accessibility than many older structures," unit director Warwick Isaacs said.

Christchurch City Council general manager for city environment Jane Parfitt acknowledged some temporary structures might have problems as the rebuild sped up.

"Examples of this would be temporary ramps, non-paved surfaces, detours and the like."

However, the council was working to ensure there were no "cut corners".

"Should contractors or builders erect non-compliant structures, we will work with them to rectify the situation to the satisfaction of all the users of that particular facility or structure," Parfitt said.

#4 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:48 PM

Rebuild is chance for disabled tourism

Last updated 05:00 03/02/2013

Rebuilding Christchurch
Half IAG's claims settled or underway Reinsurance fee rises 'likely past peak' No conflict of interest - Shipley Christchurch rental woes to be surveyed Cardboard cathedral on 'must see' list Scam uses Christchurch rebuild jobs as bait Rebuild scramble as firm topples Filled job numbers back to pre-quake levels Jackup cheaper than a rebuild Christchurch rebuild taking workers off dole

Officials deciding on proposed earthquake-proofing building codes have been told ensuring New Zealand leads the way in access for the disabled will be a financial boom - including the chance to tap into a tourism sector that pumps almost $5 billion into the Australian economy.

It was revealed last weekend that a government consultation paper was seeking opinions on a recommendation that owners of existing buildings that needed to be earthquake-proofed could do so without meeting Building Act requirements over access for people with disabilities.

The recommendation - which is included in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) document, "Building Seismic Performance", was made by the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission. The paper said the costs of strengthening an estimated 15,000-25,000 properties nationwide "may cause significant financial hardship for many building owners".

The recommendation was criticised by Green Party disability issues spokeswoman Mojo Mathers, who provided the Star-Times with the consultation document.

A week on, Minnie Baragwanath - chief executive of the Be. Institute that wants a 100 per cent accessible society - said she hoped policy makers would embrace the great opportunities that increased accessibility would provide.

"We know that the future tourists for New Zealand, and the world, are baby boomers," Baragwanath said. "And the baby boomers have the highest rates of access needs. So actually if Christchurch can turn this around and have greater accessibility it could be one of the greatest economic drivers for their future.

"An awful lot of access is seen as a cost and not an opportunity. We are trying to get people to understand the opportunity that being accessible presents."

Baragwanath said "access tourism" was a financial boom to the economy across the Tasman.

The estimated 4.2 million people with a disability who travel within Australia pour $A4.8b into the country's economy. When a person with a disability travels on holiday, they tend to take longer breaks and are usually accompanied by four or more other people. By 2050, 3.1 million tourists are expected to travel here annually. The Be. Institute estimated that with an ageing population, more than 20 per cent would have special access needs.

An estimated 660,000 people - 20 per cent of New Zealand's population - have physical or mental disabilities. Fifty per cent of Kiwis aged over 65 have a physical disability.

MBIE has invited stakeholders to have their say during a consultation period ending on March 8 but will not comment on the document while the consultation is under way as it wants the consultation to be open and not influence submissions.

Baragwanath said: "Now is the time for visionary leadership.

"I acknowledge the financial aspects, but perhaps there is a way to both advance access and not over-burden businesses at this challenging time . . . why don't we factor in the cost of exclusion, employment and getting access to goods and services?

"Why would we not be advancing the more accessible world right now, because the cost is going to hit at some point. So I would say the smart thing to do is to build it in now, it is always cheaper to build things in at this point."

- © Fairfax NZ News

Be accessible

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