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Spinal cord injuries in enugu nigeria preventable accidents

Spinal cord injuries in enugu nigeria preventable accidents

Paraplegia 26(1): 12-18

This is a review of 72 patients who were treated for Spinal Cord Injuries in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria, during the period January 1980 to January 1985. There were 20 patients who had tetraplegia as a result of their injuries and 52 with paraplegia. All the patients were treated conservatively. The catchment area of the hospital is in the rain forest belt of West Africa where tall palm trees grow. Palm tree climbers use jigs which are woven from palm fronds. The climbing jigs are prone to snapping during periods of low humidity between the months of November and March. During this period of the year the tensile strength of the jigs is greatly reduced. Our experience is that the commonest cause of spinal cord injury is a fall from palm trees. Climbers should be educated about the time related jig failure, falls and subsequent spinal cord injury. Alternative sources for stronger materials for weaving jigs, and increased growing of shorter species of palm trees from which harvesting of palm nuts take place at ground level are advocated. Other causes of spinal cord injuries and preventive measures are discussed.

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