Yuval’s Rehabilitation and Recovery:
Hope & Hard Work
In October 2020, Israel was experiencing another wave of daily new COVID-19 cases numbering in the thousands, and as a result the government instituted a nationwide lockdown. One day during the lockdown, 10-year-old Yuval wasn’t feeling well and, as a precaution, she and her mother decided that Yuval should go into isolation until she received the results of her COVID-19 test. The test thankfully came back negative, but Yuval was still feeling tired and weak, and began having difficulty walking on her right leg.
“Before all of this balagan (mess/craziness), I liked to ride horses, to paint wall art, to roller skate, to ride on a hoverboard, to dance, to play basketball, soccer and volleyball,” Yuval explains. “I have been dancing since I was 3 and playing basketball since I was 5. I’m very active and I get injured a lot, so at first we thought I had just strained a muscle and that it would pass.”
What began as difficulty gradually became intense pain when any part of her leg from the hip down to her toes were touched, while at the same time the joints in her knee and ankle locked and the muscles of her leg tensed to the maximum. Even when she slept, her right leg was locked in place at a 90-degree angle, and she would cry in her sleep if it was touched.
“I had used crutches before, but I had never been in a wheelchair, and now I needed to be in a wheelchair for six months. For one month, I couldn’t even get out of bed and my mother and grandparents needed to do everything for me.”
After months of doctors’ visits in various general hospitals and testing including blood tests, CT scans, MRIs and more, the doctors still did not have a definitive diagnosis for Yuval, nor did they have a clear program for helping her. What was clear was that Yuval would need extensive rehabilitation if there would be any possibility of returning the normal functioning of her leg, and that there was no identifiable physiological cause for the pain she was experiencing.
Ultimately, even though Jerusalem was far from her home in Hadera, Yuval was referred to Dr. Emmanuel Kornitzer, the Head of Active Rehabilitation at ALYN Hospital and a renowned expert in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in children and adolescents.
CPRS is a syndrome in the upper or lower limbs in which the individual experiences intense pain with no identifiable cause, or the pain is disproportionate to the injury, for example continuing to feel extreme pain even after having healed from a broken bone. People with CRPS find any contact with the affected area unbearable, which leads to limitations in their ability to function in their everyday lives, which, in turn, often leads to social isolation, anxiety and even depression.
Dr. Emmanuel Kornitzer explains, “At ALYN Hospital, we approach treatment of CRPS from a multidisciplinary perspective in which the children not only receive occupational, physical and psychological therapeutic treatment, but the medical and therapeutic staff meet on a weekly basis to discuss the progress of each child and to adjust the treatment program accordingly. In addition, all parents of children being treated for CRPS at ALYN Hospital receive psychological support to enable them to process and cope with their child’s medical condition.”
As Israel’s only rehabilitation center exclusively treating children and adolescents, children diagnosed with CRPS – especially in highly complex cases – are referred to ALYN Hospital from all parts of Israel.
A typical day for Yuval at ALYN starts in the Learning Center. The teachers in ALYN’s Learning Center coordinate the program of study with each child’s teacher from their local school to ensure continuity in their learning program with the aim of being able to return to their classrooms and friends when their hospitalization period is complete.
Then the hard work starts – occupational therapy and physical therapy. ALYN’s caring and innovative therapists work methodically under the guidance of Dr. Kornitzer to help Yuval both work toward returning functioning to her leg as well as to manage to be as independent and active as possible.
In occupational therapy, Yuval’s therapists are working on desensitizing her leg through gentle contact and also on helping Yuval learn how to manage Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as dressing herself. She is also taking notes on exercises that she is able to do outside of the therapeutic sessions. In physical therapy, Yuval’s therapists are working to help her lay down on her belly, touch and move a ball with her foot, and bring her leg down.
Yuval smiles and says, “I’m hopeful now because, after four months of sleeping with my right leg up in the air, for the last four nights my leg went down onto the bed when I slept. Before I came to ALYN, I felt like there was no hope and that everything was uncertain. Now, I can see a ray of hope and things [about the future] are more clear for me.”