x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Road accidents account for almost 70% of head injuries at one UAE hospital

Traffic collisions account for almost 70 per cent of head injuries at one UAE hospital.

ABU DHABI // Road accidents are the main cause of brain injuries, which are putting a strain on medical resources.

Doctors have called for more centres with specialist neurosurgical units because quick and effective treatment can reduce the risk of long-term brain damage after a head injury.

They have also urged cyclists and motorcyclists to wear protective head gear to reduce the risk of head injuries.

A study at Al Ain Hospital found the most common cause of head injury was a road traffic collision (67.1 per cent), followed by falls (11.9 per cent) as the second-most common.

Researchers examined data collected over three years from the hospital’s trauma registry and focused on patients with a head injury who had died at the hospital or were treated there for more than 24 hours.

“With an estimated mortality rate of 37 per 100,000 of the population, this makes the road traffic accident mortality rates in the UAE one of the highest in the world,” said Dr Ashraf Hefny, a specialist surgeon at Al Rahba Hospital in Abu Dhabi and the co-author of the study.

“Disability following traumatic brain injury may require a lengthy rehabilitation process, which places a great burden on personal and national medical resources.”

Dr Hefny will be among the speakers at the Middle East Trauma Conference this month, which will discuss prevention, causes and mortality rates from head injuries.

Quick and effective treatment, he said, can reduce the risk of long-term brain injury after trauma to the head.

“Most of the trauma centres in the UAE are well prepared to deal with patients with a head injury,” Dr Hefny said. “However, it is important to increase the number of centres equipped with highly qualified neurosurgical units.

“Many patients with severe brain injuries die at the scene of an accident before reaching a hospital, with almost 90 per cent of pre-hospital trauma-related deaths involving head injury.

“When dealing with a patient suffering from a serious head injury, it is important to prevent secondary brain injury.

“This is done by providing adequate oxygenation and maintaining stable blood pressure at a level that is sufficient to perfuse the brain. This can happen with rapid transfer of the patient to a trauma centre that is capable of immediate and definitive neurosurgical intervention.”

The study looked at the vital statistics of each patient, the severity of their injury, the reason for their injury and where and when it was sustained.

Researchers studied 589 patients, 521 of whom were men (88.3 per cent). The patients were between the ages of 1 and 89.

Head injury was minor in 82.2 per cent of patients, moderate in 5.7 per cent and severe in 12.1 per cent.

Of the patients studied, a fifth (20.9 per cent) were admitted to the intensive care unit and 35 (5.9 per cent) died because of the severity of the head trauma.

Data for the study was collected between March 2003 and March 2006.

Almost 1.24 million people worldwide die every year as a result of a road traffic accident and 20 million to 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury, the World Health Organisation has said.

Without action, road traffic crashes are expected to result in the deaths of about 1.9 million people a year worldwide by 2020.

jbell@thenational.ae