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High-speed collisions main cause of spinal injuries in Oman
January 11, 2016 | 11:00 PM
by BABA UMAR/[email protected]
 
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Muscat: Oman reports over 200 cases of spinal surgeries every year—mostly caused by high-speed vehicle crashes—forcing most of the patients to India or Thailand for timely treatment, health experts say.

“The number of patients with spinal trauma or spinal accidents every year is roughly about 200 to 225,” Dr. Raghvan Shivaram, specialist joint and spine surgeon told the Times of Oman (TOO).

“At the Al Khoula hospital (government) some of them are getting operated. But treatment gets delayed there because of the time factor,” said Dr. Shivaram, who practices at the Apollo Hospital in Ruwi.

Earlier on Sunday, noted Indian spine surgeon Dr Sajan K Hegde, who is in Oman, said, “Spinal problems are very common (in Oman). You have stringent licensing systems here but that doesn’t mean people aren’t driving fast. Accidents occur at high speeds here and most of the patients we receive suffer high velocity injuries.”



Dr. Hegde, is a chief spine surgeon at Apollo Hospitals in India where he often gets to treat Omani patients for spinal injuries.

“Most of them (patients) receive serious spinal injuries and some of them are left with paralysis or sometime patients are paralysed below the neck. Rehabilitating them is very important to get them back to normal life,” he told reporters during a press briefing on Sunday.



The expert pitched for the introduction of robotic physiotherapy in Oman.

Dr. Hegde is the first Indian to receive the prestigious Cortel fellowship from France for spinal surgery.

He is also known for pioneering various spinal procedures, including the first artificial disc replacement, first usage of shape memory alloy in India and first ever use of renaissance spine surgeries robotic guidance system for complex spinal deformities.



Oman’s Spine Problem


The Sultanate registered about 5,254 road accident cases in the first 11 months of 2015 in which 3,036 people were injured and 618 lost their lives, according to official data.

Omanis with spine deformities, dislocation or disc problems are known to travel to India or Thailand for timely and effective treatment.

“Most of the patients we send to these countries have to shell out around $7000 to $8000 for level one and $8000 to $10,000 for level two surgeries in India. In Thailand, the costs are almost double,” a top official from a local company that coordinates and refers local patients to foreign hospitals told TOO.

“Most of the patients don’t get timely treatment here. That is why they fly out,” he said, wishing to remain anonymous.

Companies that offer health insurance management and third party administration services say they prefer India over other destinations.

“Ortho problems are common in Oman, especially knee and spine issues,” said Umar Reshie, client relations manager at Nextcare Oman, a Muscat-based third party administrator.

“Insurance companies usually prefer India over other nations where the treatment is best and cheap. At government hospitals here, patients have to wait for long time. Sometime the wait could stretch to four or five months,” he added.

Adventure Sports Risk

As Oman is fast becoming a hub for rock climbing, base jumping, cliff diving, paragliding and other adventure sports, officials from the Apollo Hospital see opportunity as such sports come with spinal injury risks.

“Some Omanis visit the European Union for such treatment. There is a possibility in the future that robotic physiotherapy will be available in Oman as well,” hospital officials said.

They said the patients could use the helpline (+968-96478181) to access information on doctors in Muscat and India both, besides getting a second opinion and right treatment for the ailment on non-commercial bases.

Meanwhile, to avoid spine deformities or injuries, Dr. Hegde stressed on the need for an active lifestyle in Oman.

“Adopt an active lifestyle. Don’t be a couch potato. Even Omanis are smoking, getting diabetes, obesity and hypertension. It wasn’t the case earlier. These are connected to the back,” he advised.

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