ABU DHABI // About 50 Emiratis are in long-term care centres in the capital, and many are unable to care for themselves and will stay in a rehabilitation centre for the rest of their lives.
Expatriates who are injured in accidents are repatriated because they have little insurance coverage after losing their jobs.
Some patients in long-term care are in a coma, while others are attached to ventilators. Every one of the 50 Emiratis has traumatic brain injury from traffic accidents, and they are all younger than 40.
Too many young people have had their lives ruined by motoring accidents, said Dr Khalid Anwar, a consultant in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Amana Healthcare Medical and Rehabilitation Hospital.
“In the UAE, traffic accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, so we see a good number of these patients for rehabilitation,” he said.
About 20 per cent of the patients at long-term care centres in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain suffered traffic accidents.
Most of them are in the “younger age group”, Dr Anwar said, adding that they have moderate to severe neurological injuries.
“The likelihood is that they have long-term physical or cognitive impairment,” he said.
“Studies show that people who care for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) often have their lives altered. They suffer from stress, depression, anxiety and mental trauma when taking on the overwhelming task of caring for a TBI survivor.”
Dr Anwar said such disabled patients might need a long rehabilitation process, which would place a great burden on the country’s medical resources.
Dr Khaled Aboeldahab, a critical-care specialist at ProVita International Medical Centre, said young people are most affected by brain injuries.
He said as the victims are mostly between 15 and 24, “the cost to society is high due to the loss of productive years and disability”.
Caring for one patient with TBI costs the government up to Dh1 million a year, said Dr Howard Podolsky, chief executive of Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Centre.
“Brain injuries can result in an individual who could be totally dependent on others for care and activities of their daily living for the rest of their life,” he said.
“On top of that, you have lost an individual who could have been an active member of the workforce. So not only is it a cost incurred, it is an opportunity lost for the betterment of the society and families
“Not every TBI is preventable unfortunately, but many are.”
The use of seatbelts and car seats can reduce, if not prevent, the large number of brain injury cases that are presented to doctors and rehabilitation centres.
“Recklessness and speed are often to blame. This is why it is very important to raise awareness about the dangers of speeding,” Dr Aboeldahab said.