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Surgery gives new lease of life to patient with rare disease

For 28-year-old Antonio D’Souza walking with braces and visits to doctors had become a part of life.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
January 8, 2009 1:19:30 am

For 28-year-old Antonio D’Souza walking with braces and visits to doctors had become a part of life. Though extraordinary in academics and at work,he was slowly drifting away from normalcy with his fingers curling in and the involuntary movement of his neck. However,18 years after walking with braces and two years of seeking constant support for his drooping neck,D’souza,a Pune resident was finally able to walk and stand without support. 

It was only last month that D’souza found out that he is suffering with a neurological disorder called Dystonia – a condition,which causes involuntary and repetitive movement of limbs leading to abnormal posture and sever pain in muscles. He was operated successfully early this month at city-based Hinduja Hospital.  Neurologists claim that the condition is rare and affects one in a lakh. But the biggest worry according to them is that there is very little awareness among masses and even doctors about Dystonia.

Patricia Pereira,D’souza’s sister says,“When he was 10- year-old,we noticed he had a problem in writing,also his fingers curled in. Two years later he had problems in walking and needed support.”

Despite all these problems he completed his education and got a job in a shipping company. Dr Milind Sankhe,neurosurgeon at Hinduja Hospital says,“People suffering with Dystonia have normal intelligence but their physical condition becomes a hindrance as they are disabled. Since it’s a progressive disorder if not treated the patient’s routine may suffer,”

Surgical option is same as in Deep brain stimulation (DBS)— treatment given to patients with Parkinson’s disease. The only difference is that the disease affects different parts of the brain,in this case it was Pallidum.

Deep Brain stimulatio— a surgical treatment that involves the implantation of a medical device called a brain pacemaker,which sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain,provides remarkable therapeutic benefits for treatment-resistant movement and affective disorders such as Dystonia.

“In the last two years,Antonio did not have any control over his neck that moved backwards involuntarily. He took pills to bear the pain. We were advised physiotherapy and alternative medicine without knowing the root cause. It was only when we met a similar patient in Pune who informed us about the surgery that we realised that it is a neurological disorder and is treatable,” said Pereira.

“Three weeks after his surgery,his speech is clear,he can now walk with his foot flat on ground and his palm opened,” added the sister.

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