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Pain | Natural Disasters

Posted Jul 03 2008 4:11pm

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The effects of the cyclone Nargis in Myanmar that killed over 100,000 people, with displacement of over        2 million people prompted my search of the effects of natural disasters in the causation of musculoskeletal pain and psychological trauma. 

The effects of the cyclone Nargis in Myanmar that killed over 100,000 people, with displacement of over        2 million people prompted my search of the effects of natural disasters in the causation of musculoskeletal pain and psychological trauma. 

Of most frequent types of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) conditions of patients treated in the Astrodome Clinic after a historic hurricane Katrina showed the majority (75%) of PMR conditions presented in the first week. Most frequent were swollen feet and legs (22%), legpainand cramps (17%), headache (12%), and neck and backpain(10%). Persons with headaches were younger than those without (41.3 vs. 46.3 yrs, P = 0.048). Persons with neck and/or backpainwere older than those without those conditions (51.3 vs. 44.8 yrs, P = 0.004). Women had more headaches (20.9%) than did men (6.7%, P = 0.002). There were no Caucasians with legpain/cramps, whereas 20.2% of African Americans had this condition (P = 0.028).(Chiou-Tan FY. Bloodworth DM. Kass JS. Li X. Gavagan TF. Mattox K. Rintala DH.Physical medicine and rehabilitation conditions in the Astrodome clinic after hurricane Katrina.American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 86(9):762-9, 2007). 

Severenaturaldisasterscan cause long-term psychological impact on the survivors. This study aimed to examine the prevalence and risk factors of posttraumatic stress symptoms and psychiatric morbidity among survivors of the severe earthquake that occurred in Chi-Chi, Taiwan, in September 21, 1999.A total of 6412 earthquake survivors whose houses were destroyed by earthquake were recruited about 2 years after the disaster. The estimated rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and psychiatric morbidity were 20.9% and 39.8%, respectively. Psychiatric morbidity occurred mainly in survivors who were female, older, with low education level, and currently living in a prefabricated house and experienced complete destruction of property. The findings of risk factors suggest avenues for targeting postdisaster interventions (Chen CH.Tan HK. Liao LR. Chen HH.Chan CC. Cheng JJ. Chen CY. Wang TN. Lu ML.Long-term psychological outcome of 1999 Taiwan earthquake survivors: a survey of a high-risk sample with property damage). 

The post-tsunami health and nutritional statuses of survivors were surveyed three months after the disaster struck. The study group still suffered from injuries after the disaster, and complained of backpain, stress, and sleep disorders. Most in the study group had unsatisfactory health behaviors, and obesity was an increasing problem among female participants. (Kwanbunjan K. Mas-ngammueng R. Chusongsang P. Chusongsang Y. Maneekan P. Chantaranipapong Y. Pooudong S. Butraporn P.Health and nutrition survey of tsunami victims in Phang-Nga Province, Thailand.Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine & Public Health. 37(2):382-7, 2006). 


At present, saving the lives of the survivors of the Myanmar Cyclone is of paramount importance since there is scarcity of food, water, clothing and shelter. These victims living under deplorable conditions need dire help. At a time when international aid organizations and United Nations is unable to supply age to these victims, we as native physicians are able to help these victims at Ground Zero level and at this very moment as we speak, we have physicians saving lives.

 As President of the Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine Association, we urge assistance in our endeavors. To donate, please visit:


Organization summary

 Alumni Myanmar Institutes of Medicine (AMIMA) is a PA, USA incorporated, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. It is organized for the purpose of providing charitable giving to nonprofit organizations promoting health, economic development and humanitarian aid in Myanmar. We have 750 physician members world-wide and have donated in 2007 to the Myanmar Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever Project and for the establishment of the medical school library of the Institute of Medicine in Yangon.


Involvement in Myanmar cyclone disaster relief.

 AMIMA can reach the people needing the most help since as native physicians we are able to co-ordinate and work with members of the Myanmar Medical Council (local non-governmental organization). AMIMA has already donated $40,000 to Emergency Medical Relief Team for Cyclone Areas headed by Professor U Hla Myint, President, Myanmar Medical Council assisted by Dr. Kyi Minn, adviser, World Vision. This established Myanmar traveling medical team has dealt with previous epidemics, such as Dengue hemorrhagic fever and will provide medical care, clean water and food to prevent infectious diseases, as well as provide psychological counseling.


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