Thuy in Vietnam

Treating Spinal Cord Injuries in Vietnam

Thuy has a spinal cord injury and is paralyzed from the chest down.

Dinh Thi Thanh Thuy, 22, and her two-year-old daughter were traveling on a bus in April 2012, when it plunged 65 feet into a ravine. Of the 40 people riding the bus, Thuy, her daughter and four other passengers were the only survivors. “I was conscious, but I couldn’t think,” she says. “I couldn’t feel anything in my legs. I couldn’t move. I can’t tell you what I felt, because I couldn’t think.”

Thuy's injuries were so serious that the local doctors who first saw her transferred her to Ho Chi Minh Ville hospital. There, she underwent surgery, but her recovery faltered when a bone infection set in. At that point, Thuy says she resigned herself to her fate. "My mother died when I was eight and my father had a serious motorcycle accident five years ago. I only had my husband and daughter left.

"I used to work in the countryside. Now, I can’t walk. The neighbors look at me strangely because I’ve got a disability. I don’t have a future. The only thing I want to do is give my daughter a good future.” Thuy adds that she feels very guilty about not being able to look after her daughter, who currently lives with her uncle.

Since February 2013, Thuy has taken part in rehabilitation sessions at Khanh Hoa Rehabilitation Hospital. Every day, she receives physical therapy from nurses trained by Handicap International. “I feel good here. I do my exercises every day and I’ve got friends. They understand me because they are in the same situation.”

A grant enables Thuy to stay at the rehabilitation center for a few months at a time. However, Thuy is heavily reliant on her 16-year-old sister Mun, who gave up school to help meet Thuy’s daily needs.

"The world needs to know that people like me need help," Thuy says.

More information about the project

Handicap International established a national guidance and rehabilitation center for patients with spinal cord injuries at Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi, as well as four other satellite centers in the provinces. The organization provides assistance and equipment to these facilities to allow beneficiaries to receive care. Handicap International provides staff with training and administrative support and promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society.