Salima Ladak-Kachra

Women of Steel March 2014

Salima Ladak-Kachra, 43, sustained four vertebral fractures after slipping and falling on a ceramic floor at the age of 25. "The excruciating pain and emotional distress that I endured is something that I do not want others to go through," says Salima. A DXA scan later showed that she had severe osteopenia in both the spine and femur, as well as other old healing-fractures in the thoracic spine.

Salima recalls her long recovery: "I went through severe pain, and was not able to walk, shower, eat or dress without assistance.  In the months that followed, I lost one inch in height, and my waist size increased from 18 to 22 inches." The painkillers made her constantly sleepy, and she had trouble performing daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning. With the constant pain in her back, she began to suffer both physically and emotionally--putting a strain on her marriage.

Prior to her fractures, Salima had seen a few physicians complaining of back pain, but she was not checked for osteoporosis--probably due to her young age. In retrospect, risk factors were apparent: both her parents suffer from the disease, she had a low BMI, a history of poor calcium intake and little exercise in her youth.

Today Salima still copes with back pain on a daily basis, and continues to have difficulty bending or sitting without support or for prolonged periods. Yet she has taken a proactive role in her recovery through a total lifestyle change. She ensures adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, follows a targeted exercise regimen, and has increased her weight to a healthy 54 kilograms. She is also careful to use proper techniques in bending and sitting, refrains from heavy lifting, and receives help with chores when necessary.

As a result of her own devastating experience, Salima now dedicates her life to bone health advocacy. She co-founded the Bone Wellness Centre, a health facility in Toronto which supports awareness, prevention and diagnosis of osteoporosis and provides free education and counseling.

IOF Woman of Steel, Salima Ladak-Kachra

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