A patient dubbed the “Folding Man” is able to stand up straight again after complex surgery.
This comes after Li Hua (46) from Guangdong province in southern China, was left with his face pressed against his thighs for more than two decades by an aggressive form of arthritis.
Li was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis aged 18 in 1991 when pain in his joints forced him to become increasingly hunchbacked.
He couldn’t sit up straight or lie down flat and over the past five years his condition worsened to the point where he struggled to eat or drink.
Having endured years of living with the rare condition, Li finally was helped by Professor Tao Huiren, who heads up the spinal surgery and orthopaedics department at Shenzhen University General Hospital. Professor Huiren and his dedicated staff drafted a four-phase surgical plan.
The treatment plan also meant that Li’s bones had to be broken one section at a time.
“The femur, cervical vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae – and then straighten his entire spinal column,” the professor explained.
“The risks involved were 20 to 30 times that of a regular spinal surgery patient, and the chances of him becoming a paraplegic were also very high.”
Fortunately, the procedure went off as planned and now Li’s body has opened up, enabling him to lie flat, sit up and even stand straight for the first time in 28 years.
He’s now able to move around with the help of a walker and Professor Tao says Li will regain normal movement with two to three months’ physical therapy.
Sources: Magazine Features