Barefoot and Unable to Walk

C3-4 spinal cord compression

C3-4 spinal cord compression

JR, A middle-aged man, was admitted to the Emergency Department for various symptoms, most notably his numbness in hands with lack of grip strength, severe difficulty walking, and many falls, which he reported had been happening for the past three months. He could not remember if there had been any trauma before these symptoms started.

After his initial evaluation, JR got up and wanted to leave. However, before he made it very far, he collapsed and hit his head. He lost consciousness briefly and when awoken was urged to stay for further care.

While in the ED the patient became unable to walk and was diagnosed with dense quadriparesis (weakness of all four limbs) and thus needed to see a neurosurgeon right away. Dr. Vokshoor met with the patient and ordered imaging, which helped him to additionally diagnose JR with cervical myelopathy with cervical radiculopathy, cervical disc herniation, spinal cord injury, and spinal cord contusion. The severity and quick progression of his symptoms showed that his condition was becoming dangerous and needed to be treated immediately.

However, JR’s bare feet sparked a conversation in which the ED staff learned he was homeless. This man needed treatment ASAP, but had no means to pay for medical care of any kind let alone surgery. When INI learned of his situation, we were eager to help! We coordinated his care and surgery, ensuring all treatment and medical devices would be at no cost to the patient.

The surgical options and recovery expectations were fully discussed with the patient. JR was then brought to the operating room for his anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion (ACDF) at C3-4 (neck). An interlaminar biomechanical device along with anterior cervical plates were implanted for fusion and fixation. Aggressive decompression of the spinal cord in the lateral recess was done to relieve the severe pressure on the spinal cord.

Since surgery, JR has followed up with Dr. Vokshoor for postoperative care free of charge. Although he still has residual symptoms of his spinal cord injury, his quadriparesis is improving! JR has a long road ahead, and we wish him the best of luck as he focuses on his recovery!