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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

‘Healing takes a long time for road accident survivors and those responsible’

Depression, permanent disability, persistent pain and psychological trauma are some of the ways in which the lives of road accident survivors, and the motorists who caused the accident, have been changed forever.
Dr Anurag Sapolia, orthopedic and trauma surgeon at Medeor Hospital, right, wth an accident survivor. Pawan Singh / The National
Dr Anurag Sapolia, orthopedic and trauma surgeon at Medeor Hospital, right, wth an accident survivor. Pawan Singh / The National

Life as we know it can change in the blink of an eye, the moment it takes a reckless driver to lose control of his vehicle, but knowing that a bad decision was to blame for suffering and trauma can help to stop similar incidents.

DUBAI // Depression, permanent disability, persistent pain and psychological trauma are just some of the ways in which the lives of road accident survivors have been changed ­for ever.

Acknowledging that rash driving was to blame for an ­accident can prevent further incidents, according to victims and safety experts.

“When you shoot past at 60 kilometres per hour, even a small accident can cause multiple trauma,” said Dr Anurag Sapolia, an orthopedic and trauma surgeon at Medeor Hospital.

“You can easily lose the patient after injuries to the head, liver, kidney or spleen, and rehabilitation for spinal injuries and fractures can take years.”

Coping with loss is a personal struggle for Dr Sapolia, whose friend was run over four years ago when a car jumped a signal.

Another accident victim required periodic physiotherapy for injuries to her spine, arms, wrists and feet.

“She is not totally pain free and her feet still get swollen seven months after the accident,” Dr Sapolia said.

Emirati oil company executive Suhail, who did not want to use his full name, cannot erase the image of his sister lying unconscious, bleeding from head injuries after he lost control of his 4x4 and smashed into concrete road dividers two years ago.

“I lost a part of my sister that day,” said the accountant, who fractured his hands and broke two ribs.

“I thought she would die.

“Although my parents don’t say any­thing to me, I know I’m responsible for her slurred speech. She always tells me not to worry and that we are alive. But every time I see her dragging her feet, it reminds me of what I did.”

Speeding caused the deaths of 22 people in 79 accidents across the country in the first four months of this year, compared with 12 fatalities in 88 ­accidents in the same period last year, according to federal traffic authorities.

For some victims, the scars run deep despite attempts to forgive those who were behind the wheel. Dress designer Aqsa Haroon went back to work this year after an accident in 2014.

Her brother ran a red light and hit an SUV, hurling the family sedan to the opposite side of the road near Ras Al Khor.

The SUV’s occupants were safe although their car was damaged.

Ms Haroon’s car was smashed and she suffered a fractured pelvis and spine. Her face was split open from the nose to the cheek, she lost two teeth and remembers trying to drink ­water only for it to trickle out of the gap in her cheek. It was four months before she could take a few steps unaided.

Her mother, who was visiting from Pakistan, fractured her ribs and could not breathe without a ventilator for months. Another sister in the rear fractured her leg and required stitches to her face and forehead.

Her brother, who had been driving in the UAE for less than a year, also fractured his ribs.

“Doctors say my pain will be lifelong,” Ms Haroon said.

“My brother is very quiet compared to before and has cut off from everyone. It has affected his life and ours.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae