Yosef came to me in December with a very recent history: he could not stand for 6 weeks, Previously he had no problems controlling his body, his mom told me he could no longer control his urine. In careful testing, I found that he had decreased feeling from the waist down. He had hyperactive knee jerks, and his feet shook uncontrollably (sustained clonus). You can see him slumped in the chair.
I quickly suspected a spinal cord tumor. A quick MRI confirmed this: “Intra-dural, extra-medullary cystic mass displacing the spinal cord posteriorly at T5-T7 level.” Note the black golf ball-like mass compressing his spinal cord.
We immediately recognized that this is a medical emergency – good medical care and a bit of luck could save this boy from permanent paralysis. We flew him and his mom to the FOCOS Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Caring for a paralyzed 6 year old is a full-time job, and nobody can do that with more dedication than his mom.
Early this year, he had surgery by Dr. Boachie and Akoto. They found that he had a 1.5 cm arachnoid cyst. They did a T4-5 laminectomy, and the cyst removed. Yosef had screws and rods put in. Since then he had intensive physical therapy, and steady improvement. When he flew back recently, he could not stop showing off walking with his walker, from one side of the airport to the other.
Yosef – keep moving!