In a notable display of collaborative efforts, the Sri Lanka Spinal Cord Network (SLSCoN) successfully hosted its 11th Annual Academic Sessions from October 20th to 21st, 2023. This prestigious event, held at the Auditorium of the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka (CSSL), was a result of a partnership with the College of Specialists in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Sri Lanka, Asian Spinal Cord Network, SAARC Surgical Care Society, and CSSL. The theme for this year’s Academic Sessions was “Management of Spinal Cord Injuries – Interdisciplinary Approach.”

The inauguration ceremony was graced by distinguished individuals, with Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma taking on the role of Chief Guest, Prof. Arjuna Aluvihare as the Guest of Honour, and Dr. Nirmal Marasinghe serving as the Secretary of SLSCoN, symbolizing the lighting of the traditional oil lamp to commence the event.

Mr Dullas Alahapperuma, Chief Guest, Prof Arjuna Aluvihare Guest of Honour and Dr Nirmal Marasinghe Secretary of SLSCN at the occasion of lighting the traditional oil lamp

Mr A.M.Jayasekara (SAARC SCS HQ), Dr Duminda Abeysinghe (CSRR), Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma (PCPD), Dr. Narendra Pinto (SLSCN), Dr Nirmal Marasinghe (SLSCN), (Mr S.A. Dayananda (CSSL), Ms. Amali Wijesooriya (CSSL)

Dr. Narendra Pinto, President of SLSCoN, extended a warm welcome to all participants, expressing gratitude to Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma, Hon. Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus for Persons with Disability, for his presence as the Chief Guest. Dr. Pinto narrated the journey leading to the establishment of SLSCoN, emphasizing its commitment to the comprehensive care of patients affected by spinal cord injuries. He highlighted the organization’s pivotal role in facilitating the global publication of the book “International Perspectives of Injury Management” by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014.

Underlining the achievements in definitive care, Dr. Pinto announced the establishment of a Halfway Home facility at Avissawella Government Hospital, designed to provide support to patients undergoing rehabilitation by their own families. Despite these accomplishments, he stressed the need for ongoing efforts in the holistic care of spinal cord injury patients.

Dr Narendra Pinto addressing the inaugural session.

Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma expressed his appreciation for the invitation, considering it an honor for the disabled communities in Sri Lanka. He emphasized that the treatment of disabled individuals reflects the civilization of a state or society. Acknowledging SLSCoN’s exemplary work, he commended the organization for its significant contributions and advocated for state honors for Dr. Narendra Pinto. He also highlighted the pressing need to amend the existing Act No. 28 of 1996, which addresses the rights of disabled persons, to align with the evolving landscape of the last two decades.

Mr Dallas Alahapperuma , Chief Guest addressing the Inaugural Session

In a private member’s motion, Mr. Alahapperuma MP further said that he has proposed to the Parliament, printing of the Constitution of Sri Lanka in braille and making an audio version available to benefit over 400,000 visually impaired individuals in the country. He called for collective efforts to ensure proper education for disabled children and their contribution to the nation’s economic development. Mr. Alahapperuma expressed the hope for a Sri Lanka with minimal disability, emphasizing the importance of legislation, methodology development, and national dialogue.

Professor Arjuna Aluvihare, the Guest of Honour, emphasized the prevention of spinal injuries and suggested the creation of a leaflet on “preventing injuries caused by falls” for distribution among the public.

Professor Arjuna Aluvihare addressing the inaugural session

Following the Inaugural Session, the Academic Sessions included lectures and panel discussions on a wide array of topics, such as Total Care concept, long-term rehabilitation, pre-hospital care, definitive care, surgical management, acute care rehabilitation, bladder care, skin care, sexual rehabilitation, and challenges in spinal cord injury (SCI) care and community-based rehabilitation, conducted by specialists in each respective field.

Dr Narendra Pinto making his presentation

Dr Nirmal Marasinghe at the panel discussion

Participants of the Sessions

The second day of the Annual Sessions featured lectures and group discussions led by eminent consultant surgeons on subjects including accident prevention, prehospital patient management, spinal cord disorders, congenital spinal issues, paralysis, brain strokes, prevention of nerve-related diseases, care of the elderly and disabled at home, and preventing sudden falls. This comprehensive approach signifies the commitment of SLSCoN to ensuring the well-being and rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Narendra Pinto
MBBS, MS(SL), FCSSL(Hon), FRCS(Eng), FRCSEdin(ad hom.), FCPSP((Hon, Pakistan), FASI (Hon, India)
Senior Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon,
Dr. Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital.
Former Chief Surgeon, Accident Service,
The National Hospital of Sri Lanka.

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