By Lucy Osuizigbo
Lagos – An Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr Mustapha Alimi, on Tuesday says 70 per cent of traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI) in Nigeria is due to road accidents.
Alimi, also the Head, Spine Unit, National Orthopaedic Hospital igbobi, Lagos made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
The surgeon spoke in commemoration of this year’s ‘Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day’ marked every Sept. 5.
NAN reports that Spinal Cord Injury Day is marked with the intention of increasing awareness among the public.
It is presumed that the awareness generated from the event will facilitate an inclusive life for persons with disability and ensure greater chances of success of prevention programmes.
”We need to know this fact, that it is not always bad luck that causes spinal cord injuries.
”There has been substantial increase in the number of spinal cord patients, due to increasing urbanisation and use of road transportation; increasing rate of accidents on the road and increasing injuries at construction sites.
”In Nigeria, majority of spinal cord injury are traumatic of which more than 70 per cent are from road traffic and almost 20 per cent from industrial accidents, mostly at construction sites.
”Other causes include recreational accidents and acts of violence. While causes of non-traumatic spinal cord injuries include tumours and infections such as TB.”
The surgeon said SCI and the resultant paralysis had devastating physical, mental, social, sexual and vocational consequences for the injured, adding that, it increased the economic burden on the victim and potentially, his or her entire support network.
Alimi said that prevention assumed special significance in the case of SCI, due to the permanence of disability.
”The common saying is, ‘Prevention is better than cure’’, but in fact, where a spinal cord injury is concerned, prevention is cure.
”As per the statistics from USA, depending on the severity, SCI can cost an injured individual 334,000 dollars to 1 million dollars in the first year after injury.
”Costs in each subsequent year range from USD 41,000 to 178,000 USD.
”In Nigeria, it is estimated to cost about seven to N10 million per annum.
‘’The financial and psycho-social burden of SCI on the patients and their relatives, the hospitals and the nation is overwhelming and their situation is pathetic,’’ he said.