Imam walks… just days after severe spine injury

By Sheena Amos

DUBAI 5 November 2017: The patient’s right arm was completely paralysed after an accident that also jammed his cervical spine – but he found a new lease on life at RAK Hospital after undergoing a critical surgery.

Doctors say men are more at risk of cervical spine injury, along with those suffering from arthritis and other bone diseases. In this case, improper handling of a road accident patient can lead to further complications, particularly in the case of spine injury, they added.

In a dramatic turn of events, 54-year-old Ahmed (name changed on request) was brought back from the brink of death after he was hurt in an accident and suffered a severe cervical spinal injury.

When the Imam at a local mosque in Ras Al Khaimah was brought to RAK Hospital, his entire right hand was paralysed, his cervical spine was jammed and there was weakness in his limbs.

The Egyptian national had also suffered from high cervical slipped disk and the spinal cord was badly bruised and swollen. However, thanks to timely medical assistance, Ahmed was on his feet and was able to move independently just a few days after surgery.

“The patient had already spent two days at another hospital, and was weak in the upper and lower limbs, suffering from severe pain in the neck and arm and was feeling dizzy,” explained Dr Tinku Jose Kurisinkal, Consultant Neurosurgeon at RAK Hospital, “In such a condition if a patient is left unattended for long it can lead to lifelong paralysis in limbs as well as respiratory paralysis. In other words, he would have stopped breathing.

Dr Tinku Jose
Dr Tinku Jose

“Since time was of essence, we rushed him to surgery after immobilising the spine by hard cervical collar. Intubation of the patient for giving general anaesthesia was also a challenge because even a small manipulation of spine could lead to paralysis for life.”

The team then focused on correcting the instability in his spine. Because he had slipped disc – which means that the disc keeping the two vertebras aligned had bulged – there was a lot of abnormal movement between the vertebras. The traumatic disc was removed millimetre by millimetre with a microscope and the spine was secured and stabilised using the zero-profile cage and screws.

Miraculous Recovery

Soon after the surgery – which took three hours – the patient started moving one finger in his right hand, and three days later he was able to move the entire hand with ease. Now he can walk independently without any support. He will continue to further work on his movements at RAK Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre.

While traumatic spinal cord injury can happen to anyone involved in an accident or fall, men are more susceptible to it than women. Young people within 16 to 30 years of age and adults older than 65 are more at risk as well as those suffering from arthritis or other bone diseases. If not addressed properly, the injury can result in complications in blood circulation, irregular bowel function, loss of sensation in parts of skin and respiratory issues.

Dr Tinku also stressed on creating awareness on cervical spine injury, warning that mishandling of such patients could lead to further complications, and even death.

“Improper handling of a road traffic accident with respect of cervical spine cases can cause more harm than good. A number of times, the condition of people who have suffered from spine and neck injury deteriorate because of the way they are handled. Patient should be moved after strict cervical immobilisation. Unlike other injuries where blood is involved, a spine injury shows few obvious tell-tale signs. Therefore, it’s important that in cases of even a head injury, people should consider it a cervical spine issue until proven otherwise. Ahmed was fortunate that while being shifting to the hospital, utmost care was taken not to worsen his condition further,” said Dr Jose.

Dr Raza Siddiqui, CEO, Arabian Healthcare Group and Executive Director RAK Hospital, added: “I would like to congratulate the RAK Hospital team once again on their quick action that has helped someone get a new lease on life. Ever since the inception of our neuroscience department, we have done a number of spine and brain-related high-risk successful surgeries, not just on UAE residents, but patients have also flown in from GCC, US and African countries. We take immense pride in our highly skilled clinical team and cutting edge technology at par with hospitals in the West. Keeping in view the increasing number of spinal issues and injuries, we also launched the Neck and Back Clinic earlier this year.”

The patient thanked the hospital for their care and timely action.