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NRS Hospital turns out to be only saviour for autistic kids

Kolkata: Special children suffering from congenital disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are denied treatment in most of the medical colleges and hospitals in the city except the NRS Medical College and Hospital as occupational therapy cannot be provided on a regular basis due to lack of infrastructure.
These children need special care of occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics coming under the Physical Medicine Rehabilitation (PMR) department. But unfortunately, the occupational therapy or prosthetics/orthotics cannot be performed on an everyday basis at various government-run medical colleges in the city including the Superspecialty SSKM Hospital. There is an occupational therapist at SSKM but he mainly caters to the OPD and indoor patients.
The revelation comes a day after the state celebrated the World Autism Awareness Day on Monday with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sending across a message through her Twitter handle: "To work towards spreading awareness about autism, and how to treat autistic people with sensitivity".
It is her government that has brought about a sea change in the health infrastructure at various hospitals. A host of new schemes have been introduced covering people from all walks of life. A revolutionary step was the introduction of free treatment at the state-run hospitals. A huge amount of fund is used for the rehabilitation of children.
Occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics treatments are not available for these children not only at the city's medical colleges but also at the others in the districts.
NRS Medical College and Hospital is the only place where the treatment is provided on a regular basis. Occupational therapy is also not available at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital. As a result, the children who are being brought to the SSKM Hospital, RG Kar
Medical College and Hospital and others for occupational therapy are referred to NRS Medical College and Hospital.
A huge number of the autistic children from various districts, particularly from Murshidabad and Malda, are visiting the city's medical colleges on a regular basis as their parents cannot afford treatment at private hospitals due to exorbitant expenses.
In normal cases, these patients need to undergo treatment for a minimum of six months up to 2-3 years depending on the level of disability. According to sources, the facilities are neither available at Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital, Malda Medical College and Hospital nor at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.
Autism is a neurological disorder which affects communication and social interaction of children. There are various symptoms of anxiety, phobia or frustration, sensory and communication issues,
behavioural or emotional disturbance or intellectual irregularities etc. The symptoms are generally revealed in a child from 18 to 36 months since birth.
NRS Medical College and Hospital, where all the treatment facilities are available, have to cater to a large number of patients. The PMR department of the hospital, along with the occupational therapy unit, is providing treatment to these children in assistance with the Department of Neurology, Pediatric and Psychiatry at the Regional Artificial Limb Centre of the hospital. The hospital still lacks an audiologist and a speech therapist.
Dr Nityananda Kar, HoD, PMR department at NRS Medical College and Hospital said: "Occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics should be started at all the
medical colleges so that patients need not come to the city from far-flung areas."
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