Physiotherapists working with Eman Ahmed Abd El Aty, the Egyptian woman who arrived in Mumbai on February 11 for weight-reduction surgery, said she is currently undergoing ‘passive physiotherapy’ in the form of massages in her room at Saifee Hospital. They admitted that working with Eman, who weighs just under 500kg, was a challenge like none they had faced previously.
Dr Swati Sanghvi, head of the advanced physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation department at Saifee Hospital, said they began with massage therapy because of Eman’s high water retention and other medical issues.
“I evaluated the patient on Saturday when she arrived at the hospital. From Monday we started the sessions. We intend to take it extremely slow because her body hasn’t been familiar with any kind of exercise for over two decades,” said Dr Sanghvi.
Eman has two passive physiotherapy sessions a day, each three hours long.
She suffers from severe lymphedema, a condition in which blockages in the lymphatic system prevent the filtration of harmful microbes and cause the limbs to swell. Dr Sanghvi said they were also planning to use matrix rhythm therapy a German technology, to relieve Eman’s lymphedema and improve the circulation of oxygenated blood in her body. It would also help relax her muscles and improve the process of their regeneration and healing, she added. “We have the most advanced technology to assist her but the treatment will follow a cautious approach,” said Dr Sanghvi. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
For now, the passive physiotherapy is restricted to Eman’s upper body, Dr Sanghvi said. “Her upper body movements are better than those of her lower body. Though initial tests ruled out the possibility of a paralytic stroke that would affect her right hand and right leg, there is certainly a difference in movements and we will work to make it better,” she added.
The main challenge for the physiotherapists, Dr Sanghvi said, was making sure they didn’t stretch Eman’s limbs more than was necessary and cause an injury. “We are trained in human anatomy and well aware of the pressure points but owing to the patient’s body fat and unexercised muscles, we have to take extreme care while activating her lymphatic system,” added Dr Sanghvi.
In phase two of Eman’s physiotherapy, doctors will have to buy or build a special pneumatic compression device – an inflatable sleeve like the ones used for blood-pressure tests – for Eman’s limbs. The results of her genome tests are expected in two weeks.