Afflicted with cerebral palsy from birth, 28-year old Odean Charles has recently been even more determined to get his legs working so that he can finally walk unaided. He was born with bilateral flexion contractures of his hips and knees as well as hamstring tightness. And with new surgery undertaken by a group of orthopedics working at Mulund’s Fortis Hospital, Charles may just be able to “move past” his disorder as he has been seeking. As Sachin Bhonsle from the surgical team said, “a simple soft tissue operation could have cured him in childhood itself, but the now old and severe deformity needed not only soft tissues but also correction of the bends at his bone joints.”
This procedure was life-changing for Charles. Before the surgery, his knees were so stiff that they were permanently bent at a 45 degree angle. Due to this, soft tissues from his knees were released in an attempt to straighten them out, and then realign his bones with osteotomes – a special-cutting tool. Via titanium plates and screws, fixation was achieved and the hips were tightly severed where the soft tissue release occurred.
This kind of surgery is not new. In the past, it has been researched by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) vis-à-vis its effectiveness on patients with different types of cerebral palsy. A study of 34 individuals with CP (22 with diplegia; 4 each with quadriplegia and right and left hemiplegia) between the ages of 4 to 16-years-old was conducted. It was found that following the surgery, there was significant functionality improvement (when assessing pre- and post-operative GMFCS scores). All were able to walk around, with five patients using knee ankle-foot orthoses; 22 with ankle-food orthoses; and six with knee gaiters. Sixteen used walkers and two used crutches for aid.
It was thus concluded that “CP patients with good trunk control and static contractures at multiple joints in the lower limbs can be made ambulant with single-stage multilevel soft-tissue surgery. It has to be a team effort of the surgeon and the rehabilitation team in the postoperative period for the attainment of satisfactory goal.”
And when looking at Charles, this proves the point. While until now he has only been able to dream of engaging in sporting activities, now, thanks to the surgery, this will likely become his reality.