http://www.spinalsoothers.com/ that imparts information about SCI injury and also provides counseling on the net, to people living far of places in India and abroad. He daily receives three to four queries on an average. Telephone and letters are other means of counselling he is using to rehabilitate People with Spinal cord Injuries.
More then twenty years ago life almost took a U- turn for Shivjeet Raghav. On 23rd July 1980, while on his early morning jog, some hooligans attacked him with sticks. The major injury was the fracture in the region of 5th-6th cervical ( neck ) vertebrae which is termed as “Spinal Cord Injury’ that changed his life completely and left him paralysed below the level of the injury.
He is a RCI (Rehabilitation Council of India) registered Rehabilitation Counsellor. At the time of his injury, he was doing his MSc in Bio-Chemistry and was captain of the college Basket ball team. It probably is the fighting spirit of a sportsman that helped in converting his disability into a source of inspiration for others who go through a similar trauma. His father retired as a Colonel from the Army Medical Core after putting in a service of almost thirty six years. Thus he got to experience two very different faces of society and thus can equally understand the need of a person from each and every socio-economic cultural back ground.
He could have availed all sort of facilities under the Disability Quota such as a Gas Agency or a petrol pump or any kind of dealership. But looking at the lack of information available to the patients at the time of hospitalisation, he decided to take up Peer Counselling as a hobby to begin with and as a career in the later years. He visited few Spinal Cord Injuries Centre in UK and USA such as Stoke Mendiville and SCI centre South Port, UK and Boston University Medical Centre, USA, to learn the protocol followed during the rehabilitation and the role of the each member of the rehabilitation team.
After his discharge from Spinal unit and before joining as full time Counsellor at ISIC in September 1996, he stayed at Delhi Cheshire Home for almost seven years. He was invited on the occasion of golden jubilee celebrations of the foundation in 1998 that too in the capacity of a speaker to give a talk on Empowerment and Advocacy for people with disabilities. Seven years of his association with Cheshire homes provided him with the right kind of exposure and experience to work with people with all kind of disabilities.
During the last ten years he has counselled hundreds of people with SCI. It has greatly helped them in accepting their injury and its consequences. They took full interest in medical, physical, vocational rehabilitation and the reintegration into the main stream became so easy.
His most vital achievement would be the realisation, because of his unending efforts, that Sexual Counselling is a must and one of the top priority on the agenda of comprehensive rehabilitation. The issue of sexuality and sexual options need to be addressed along with bladder and bowel management. There have been many broken marriages due to lack of information, moreover it directly effects the self-concept, self-image and body image of a person.
Second achievement by the family members of people with disability, is that they need to provide complete and unflinching support in order to bring back the member of their family with disability into the main stream. he is also engaged in raising wwareness in the society through camps and workshops on the emotional and physical needs of people with disability . He has attended or organised about sixty such programmes to achieve the goal in metropolitan cities as well as remote rural and hilly areas of India.
There is hardly any awareness about the latest research on the cure front of SCI. Proper dissemination of information on this front is required to provide the right hope to people with SCI. Apart from his counselling at the centre of the IPD and OPD patients, his website facilitates the achievement of the above challenges . It is the first website in India covering all aspects of SCI management. The idea is to educate people by providing them comprehensive information ranging from managing life after SCI to SCI research, sports, parenthood, holiday destination and legal rights. Focus is on interaction. He keeps updating what ever he had missed out and the latest developments in the field. If response is anything to go by, within three months of going on line , he went to attend on invitation, the International Summit on Independent Living at Hawaii, USA in the first week of Dec 2000 and then a training in Sexual Counselling at Boston University Medical centre under Professor Stanley Ducharme, a professor not only in Psychology but also Rehabilitation Medicine. Now he too is available for online counselling on his website.
He is an active member of the Disability Rights Group (DRG) and also founder member of the Disabled People International (DPI) India chapter. The Spinal Injuries Association, India chapter is also being opened and he is the Executive Secretary cum Treasurer for the same. He has been regularly attending various awareness camps and other workshops representing ISIC. DRG has representation from different NGOs working in the field of different disabilities thus providing opportunity to learn and work for almost all different disabilities from one platform. He participates in different meaningful activities, one such was UN-ESCAP survey of all Government buildings in a two kilometre area of New Delhi to make it completely barrier free zone. It is now a role model for this kind of work under the disability act. He was also fully involved in the exercise of making at least 12 major airports of India barrier free.
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