Doha, 25 May, 2019: Abdulrahman Shahin Al Neimi, a 16-year-old Qatari boy with spinal muscular atrophy who has benefited from the specialized care provided by Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI) says his care team’s assistance in helping him develop his artistic abilities has been an integral part of his rehabilitation.
“I started drawing while I was recovering from surgery at a medical center in Germany and when I returned to Qatar the rehabilitation team at QRI encouraged me to develop my talent. My occupational therapist Ms. Anteena Aziz saw the benefits of art therapy and she also saw my passion for art. She found the assistive devices and strategies needed for me to practice my hobby and to express myself through art. Creating art has been an important outlet for me to express myself and along with physical therapy has helped me to achieve greater independence and mobility,” said Abdulrahman.
Abdulrahman, who is currently a tenth-grade student at Khalifa Secondary School, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of four months. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder characterized by muscle deterioration and joint deformities. Due to a loss of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brainstem, individuals with SMA are unable to control the movement of their muscles. While there is no cure for the condition, ongoing treatment and support can help manage symptoms and help those with SMA to have the best possible quality of life.
Dr. Ahmad Samer Al Qawadri, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician at QRI and Abdulrahman’s case manager, says his story and healthcare journey demonstrate the importance of both a positive mindset and the incorporation of alternative therapies.
“Abdulrahman has severe atrophy in his muscles and malformations in the joints of his limbs and spine. His condition is progressive, meaning it develops and grows as he ages and grows. The deformity of his spine affected his ability to sit and his balance and respiratory function. In August 2018 he underwent surgery in Germany to correct the spinal deformity and this was followed by a rehabilitation program here at QRI to help improve trunk control, balance, and his ability to use his hands,” said Dr. Al Qawadri.
Through an intensive day rehabilitation program at QRI, Abdulrahman’s respiratory function increased and the control of his head and spine improved. He achieved good sitting balance control and therapists at QRI began working with him to focus on improving his hand coordination, which is when his passion for art was discovered.
“Abdulrahman’s artistic talent and his passion for art were discovered while he was completing the rehabilitation program at QRI. Our Occupational therapists noticed his talent for painting and drawing and were eager to encourage his hobby as we saw the physical and emotional benefits. His severe muscular weakness and abnormalities prevented him from fully practicing his hobby so we focused on building his fine motor skills through hand therapy exercises and by providing assistive devises,” said Ms. Anteena Aziz, an Occupational Therapist at QRI.
Ms. Aziz said Abdulrahman is an inspiration for others – both patients and healthcare providers. She noted that in spite of his condition and the associated physical limitations, he has developed his skill and uses art to advocate for those with special needs by celebrating them through his paintings and drawings.
Ms. Salam Amin Nassar, Day Care Rehabilitation Program Coordinator at QRI, said the hospital is the region’s largest tertiary rehabilitation center and provides world-class integrated rehabilitation services tailored to the individual needs of patients.
“Our unit was opened in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Wafa Al Yazeedi, Chairperson of Rehabilitation at QRI. We receive patients with a variety of care needs, including those recovering from a stroke, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. Since opening, our Day Care Rehabilitation Program has cared for hundreds of patients. Most of our patients undergo a two-month intensive outpatient treatment program that is supplemented by additional outpatient therapy, dependent on their care needs. Our programs are unique because we offer holistic, multidisciplinary care that is designed to meet the individual needs of our patients,” said Ms. Nassar.