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Mumbai doctors help Yemeni children with Cerebral Palsy get back on their feet

Mumbai orthopaedic surgeon Dr Atul Bhaskar said he has treated at least four Yemeni children diagnosed with cerebral palsy

mumbai Updated: Oct 08, 2017 00:03 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Cerebral Palsy,Yemen civic war,Yemen
Ali Talal (right) with his grandfather Mohammad Ali.(HT)

“Once we go back home, we will tell all our relatives and friends how India is helping us put our children back on their feet,” said Mohammad Ali, grandfather to seven-year-old Ali Talal. Against the backdrop of World Cerebral Palsy Day, families from Yemen, a war-torn country in the Middle East, said Indian doctors are offering hope to children suffering from congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture.

Cerebral palsy —a neurological disorder — is a result of abnormal brain development often before or immediately after birth. Patients show symptoms such as impaired movement, abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Atul Bhaskar said he has treated at least four Yemeni children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Two of them, Talal and Abdul Rehman, underwent surgeries for contracture removal Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, last week. A contracture is the permanent shortening of a muscle or joint in a concentrated muscle area.

“A year after he was born, we realised that he was not able to walk or stand properly. We stay in Yafee, a small village. It takes us two days to reach the nearest hospital,” said Mohammad.

The boys’ families said the majority of Yemen’s medical resources are focused on attending to the war. “None of the hospitals we visited offered our children any surgery or treatment,” Mohammad added.

Both families are from the same village, but met only at the Mumbai airport. They arrived on October 1. That same day, Dr Bhaskar and his team performed surgery on the children. “Surgeries are only 40% of the work, the real task is physiotherapy, which helps strengthen the muscles so the children can stand and walk. We will train the families in physiotherapy, so they don’t have to hunt for a professional physician or physiotherapist when they return home,” said Dr Bhaskar.

In Yafee, there are about 25 children who are facing similar complications, but have no treatment options. The absence of an Indian Embassy, since the past four months, makes it difficult for families to find treatment options and get a medical visa to travel to India.

Raniya Karim, a former Indian embassy employee, said she has helped 15 to 20 families get medical visas. “Civil unrest has resulted in a scarcity of resources. As a majority of the locals are farmers, they don’t have the financial means to travel to India for treatment. But, now with non-government organisations such as Red Cross, families are travelling to Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore for treatment,” said Karim.

Both families are likely to return home by the end of October.

First Published: Oct 08, 2017 00:03 IST