By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff As the Bougainvillea Clinic celebrates another milestone in healthcare services in the British Virgin Islands, doctors are warning of the health complications associated with inappropriate cellphone use. These complications translate to neurological problems.
Owner of the aforementioned private medical facility, Dr Heskith Vanterpool said: “The Bougainvillea clinic has been doing a number of firsts-type procedures in the Caribbean. These are highly specialized and very important procedures that we are doing here … On Monday of this week, we had the first vertebral disc replacement surgery in the neck performed in the Caribbean other than in Jamaica.”
The landmark procedure was undertaken by Nevisian, Dr James Geoffrey Liburd - a neurosurgeon, and Dr Kwesi Davis who is an ear, nose and throat surgeon from Jamaica.
More young persons requiring neurosurgical services
Dr Liburd said more young persons are now requiring his expertise.
“Recently, we have been seeing a lot of younger patients and we are still studying it. But we think it may be related to cellphone use. Everybody is looking down, and all of that is affecting the neck as opposed to being in a more neutral position with the neck,” Dr Liburd said.
He said, while the use of technology is good, persons need to protect their bodies against its misuse.
“Make sure you are not flexing the neck if you are using headphones, so you are better able to function without necessarily bending your head and so forth. Within the workplace, make sure you are trying to keep the neck neutral, exercise as well is quite important. Make sure that you are drinking adequate amounts of fluids to be hydrated,” he continued.
His colleague, Dr Davies also explained that even the use of headphones must be done correctly.
“The thing about using earphones and using it often is that sometimes we get used to the high volumes and we don’t modulate the exposure we have. So the exposure becomes hours a day, and the problem is we have a delicate organ in our inner ear that is supposed to turn all these mechanical waves into naval impulses. And that organ gets damaged at a very high rate when you are exposed to constant loud sounds,” he said.
Good use of cutting edge tech
On the other hand, technology is also being seen as a blessing with more now cutting edge devices and equipment are benefitting persons in healthcare, Dr Liburd said.
“In the past, we used to do something called fusion. What we would do is remove the disc, take the pressure off the nerve and spinal cord and take a piece of bone from the hip, put that bone into the space, and on that we put a plate.”
Dr Liburd explained that this procedure, however, would limit the motion of the neck and patients would be unable to bend their neck backwards or forward. At some point, these patients would require more operations such as their first patient who had a fusion operation ten years ago.
Fast forward to today, he explained that with new technology, patient’s mobility is much quicker, and the incisions made during the operation are a lot smaller.
Among the benefits to the new procedure is the savings associated with it being done locally for the patient, government, and the insurance companies.
“You are not doing repeat procedures and patients are back out in the workforce a lot earlier,” Dr Liburd said argued.
On the other hand, some potential risks of cervical spine surgery according to online research include reactions to the anaesthesia, bleeding, infection, nerve injury, spinal fluid leak, voice change, stroke, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, failure to relieve symptoms among other things.
Dr Liburd said they have been receiving patients from Anguilla and St Maarten. “What we are offering you is the care that you would get in any first world country.”