Accomplishments 2014


Progress continued..

through 2014 for Spine Nepal. You will recall that Dr Prakash passed his principles of surgery exam and Dr Raju his general medical exams – of 12 Nepalese residents in the Dhaka program, four (including Raju) passed these exams. We continue to talk with them over Skype or phone every couple of weeks or so.

Kate Coffey,

a financial planner colleague from Canada, worked with the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre on a number of programs from November 2013 to April 2014. Among other projects she assisted in implementation of the hospital’s new five-year strategic plan, worked with interns to develop new ideas for fundraising and helped Ram prepare for his marathon yatra (see below).  Kate invites you to read her blog here. 

A major project Kate tackled Ram in Lumbini was to assist Ram Bahadur Tamang (left), a spinal cord injured musician, in his plan to set out on his Yaatra, a rel1966880_614629658620141_1131253848_nigious pilgrimage or journey, taking him from Namo Buddha, a temple not far from SIRC, to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. Ram travelled with SIRC colleagues Binod (driver of the support vehicle) and Prajwal, who works at SIRC on home visiting and home modification. Ram undertook this trip to enhance awareness of spinal cord injury in Nepal, supported by SIRC staff person Prajwal and driver Binod. The roads were often bad (right); remember also that standard wheelchairs are especially difficult to wheel on soft ground. (Thanks to Rosie and Kate for these images.)

Over the course of his trip, Mr. Tamang made many presentations along the way at hospitals, community centres, Rotary and Lions clubs, and to spinal cord injury patients regarding the causes of spinal cord injury, the preventive measures and the importance of rehabilitation for those with spinal cord injury, his courageous spirit serving as inspiration to many he met along the route. At each stop, he recited his self-penned song about spinal injury, rendered in the traditional ‘gandharva’ style and accompanied by the sarangi. Mr. Tamang completed the 366 km journey in 26 days despite the road conditions and traffic: often unsurfaced roads, dust and diesel smoke, narrow roads with buses and lorries overtaking at speed, as well as steep hills, slopes and incline . For highlights of the Wheelchair Yatra in pictures, please visit:


May 24 2014: Music for Spine Nepal – what a wonderful concert!  

A group of musicians generously donated their time to perform for us in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s School of Music magnificent Pyatt Hall. The music ranged from classical with the Tantalus strIMG_1351ing trio’s selections from Mozart’s Divertimento to world music with Amy Stephen and Amir Haghighi (left) to jazz with Miles Black, Canada’s most famous contemporary jazz pianist. At intermission we had mo-mos with aloo achar and bhatmaas from Vancouver’s Café Kathmandu with masala tea and refreshments (right). We had textiles, pashminas and jewellery from Nepal for sale, and a silent auction. Rehab specialist Dr Rhonda Willms played the piano as accompaniment for Vancouver’s finest flautist, Mark McGregor, thus our players included all levels from gifted amateur to BC professional musicians with an international reputation.  We had a full house with all tickets sold out and early reviews by the audience were glowing.  From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you to the music school, to the musicians who so generously gave their time and talent, and to the volunteers, our many friends who helped in so many ways. We had several offerings in the silent auction, with a grand prize given by lawyer Joe Murphy who brought two groups of people via a tour of the Vancouver waterfront to Bowen Island for a convivial dinner.

In the summer,

Dr Prakash published a case report in the Nepal Journal of Neuroscience of an intradural intramedullary pilocytic astrocytoma of the spinal cord. For the fall festival of Dashain, both Prakash and Raju travelled home to see family. Raju and Sheela flew from Dhaka back to Kathmandu to stay with Sheela’s family. Raju spending several days back at SIRC, a step we have encouraged so that he stays in a close relationship with the rehab centre. Prakash and Laxmi headed back to Prakash’s family in southwestern Nepal. 

We are looking ahead with both doctors to help them determine what type of additional education may be needed to prepare them for the type of work they plan to do when they enter their practice of spinal care in Nepal. We will post further when plans are more definite. Raju completed a course on the basics of medical education and a session on research and biostatistics. Sheela finishes her MPH course work in December and will work on her dissertation – congratulations are due as she has received a 50% scholarship, while Laxmi, Prakash’s wife, is well on her way to completing a nursing degree.PP with Kate and Jeff KTM Nov 2014 ed

In October,

two of our good friends and colleagues from Vancouver, Katherine Paton and Jeff Beckman, were in Nepal in October for a trek to Everest Base Camp. Not only did they achieve that goal, but they also took the time to have a coffee with Dr Prakash in Kathmandu on their way home in early November (right). Thanks to you both!    


Occupational Therapist Ms Amira Tawashy travelled to Kathmandu to work at SIRC for about a month. Affiliated with Dalhousie University (Claire’s Alma Mater) and the Nova Scotia Rehab Centre. Amira has a particular interest in neurological rehabilitation, although her major focus is in Spinal Cord Injury – you can meeRenee with Raju and Sheelat her here in a video made when she was working at Vancouver’s GF Strong Rehab Centre. Renee Maschke, Director of the spinal cord injury unit in Perugia, attended the Asian Spinal Cord Network annual meeting Nov 27-29 in Dhaka, hosted by the Centre for Rehabilitation of the PASCoN 2014 SIRC grouparalysed.  Dr Raju presented a paper there, and SIRC had a contingent of three – Esha Thapa (CEO), Mandira Baniya (nursing), and Chanda Rana (rehab)..  Renee Maschke hosted Raju and Sheela’s stay at the conference hotel, while Claire and Peter contributed to the costs of the SIRC group.  Left: Raju and Sheela with Renee; on the right, from left to right, are Esha, Renee, Mandira, Chanda, Nazirah Hasnan (SCI specialist from Kuala Lumpur) and Raju. Below, the Nepalese wheelchair basketball team who, Raju tells us, performed very well in Dhaka. We were surprised and delighted to see these wonderful competitive wheelchairs, because on the last occasion we attended a game of wheelchair basketball in Nepal the players were using a total mix of different chair types leading to many falls. We understand that a big ‘thank you’ is due to Motivation Wheelchairs!

Following the meeting, Renee flew to Kathmandu to visit SIRC (her second visit), her time overlapping with that of OT Amira. She focussed on educational issues, and worked closely with a new-to-spinal cord injury doctor currently on rotation at SIRC from nearby Dhulikel hospital.

Sports team hold hands