WARANGAL: His story will send shudders down your spine! Shailesh Kumar from Shivlal Bigha village in Bihar became paraplegic after suffering a T10 spinal cord injury in an accidental fall in 2011. The injury left Shailesh in a state of severe depression as he had lost all hopes of returning to normalcy.
Nonetheless, besides becoming the fastest half-marathon participant on a wheelchair and a national-level wheelchair basketball player, this man is now on a mission to help people bed-ridden with spinal cord injury across the country. With his focus especially in the rural areas where people are not aware about the myriad methods through which they could overcome their disabilities, Shailesh has been touring the nation and helping people.
Today, Shailesh works as a physio-coordinator and wheelchair skills trainer at a rehabilitation centre in Chandigarh and is also the founder of the Spinal Foundation. He also coaches people with their athletic pursuits at the Chandigarh spinal rehab. And as part of his mission, Shailesh on Tuesday visited Warangal and met people who were bed-ridden due to spinal cord injuries.
“I try to motivate them through various examples and encourage them to believe in themselves. I tell them it is possible to do work on their own. When I could do it, why can’t they,” he said. “I teach them how to manage their urine and bowels, how to get into a car from a wheelchair and how to manage bed sores,” he added. According to him, to motivate a person bedridden with spinal cord injury is a herculean task and needs a lot of patience. “We have to not only motivate the person, but also his family members who play a vital role in helping him in gaining confidence,” he stated.
Shailesh said that in most of the families, people with such injuries are considered a burden and most of the time they are neglected. “We have to change this scenario and bring awareness among people. Like me, a lot of people travel across the world on a wheelchair and do work on their own. This message should reach all the affected people,” he said.
His journey so far
Shailesh’s journey from a bed-ridden youth to the fastest half-marathon participant on a wheelchair was not a cakewalk. He had lost all hopes and had gone into a state of severe depression, until he met Vaidyanathan Srinivasan, who gave him a different perspective of life and changed his attitude.
In fact, he completed his last half marathon (21.1km) in two hours, twenty minutes and sixteen seconds. Shailesh now aims for the 2020 Summer Paralympics. Through the crowdfunding website www.fueladream.com, Shailesh has raised 4.26 lakh to buy a racing wheelchair to contest at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
‘Give Rs 10,000 per month to people with spinal cord injuries’
Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Telangana has demanded the government to provide Rs 10,000 per month to people bed-ridden due to spinal cord injuries under Asara pension scheme. They also wanted the government to provide cashless treatment at corporate hospitals based on Aadhaar card. Since they need to travel through wheelchairs, they want the government to provide motorised wheelchairs. According to the president of the association Md. Shafi Ahmed, who had been on a wheelchair since 2001, they want the government to set up rehabilitation centre of spinal cord injured patients in all the districts and provide free rail and bus passes.