Monday, July 15, 2024

Catatonic for 20 years, this is the only treatment that has woken her up

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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In 1995, 21-year-old April Burrell suffered a life-changing trauma, says Between us. As a promising student, she suddenly finds herself trapped in her own mind, experiencing intense visual and auditory hallucinations. His helpless loved ones witnessed his rapid mental deterioration.
April was diagnosed with a severe form of schizophrenia, a disorder that left her catatonic and required prolonged hospitalization in New York..

For twenty years, April had no real contact with the outside world. Lethargic, unable to communicate, she no longer recognizes her family or friends. Catatonia, a condition that was little understood at the time, made it “Forgotten soul“, said Sander Marks, director of psychiatry at Columbia University, who first met her in 2000.. Marks was a medical student at the time and had no idea he would play a crucial role in April’s rebirth nearly two decades later.

A new treatment has been implemented and is bearing fruit

In 2018, a major discovery changed the course of April’s life. Dr. Marks diagnosed that she also suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease that specifically attacks the brain.. This diagnosis opened a new path to treatment. Until then, efforts to treat severe schizophrenia had been futile, but recognition of lupus made it possible to redirect care toward a more comprehensive and targeted approach.

After months of immunotherapy and multiple tests, April’s condition began to improve. The treatment, which was aimed at modifying his immune system, gradually reduced the symptoms of his psychosis. In 2020, April broke out of the rut, providing a rare example of recovery after a long period.

“You hugged me and held my hand.”

After this amazing improvement, April is transferred to a rehabilitation center. The rehabilitation process was crucial in allowing him to regain social and cognitive skills after many years of isolation. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, April was unable to see her family right away, but the reunion eventually took place in 2022.

April’s brother, Jay, recounted their first meeting. “She hugged me and held my hand. We were so happy because we haven’t seen her like this in forever.“The man described his sister as”new person“, getting to know their loved ones and remembering childhood moments. It was a moment of intense emotions for the whole family.

“We’re not just improving their lives.”

April Burrell’s case now opens a new era in the treatment of patients with severe psychotic disorders associated with autoimmune diseases. According to Dr. Marks, about 200 other patients could benefit from similar treatments. “Not only are we improving their lives, we are bringing them back from a place I never thought they could come back from.“, he announced.

This progress highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to medicine, where collaboration between different disciplines can lead to life-saving discoveries. toThe success of Abril Burrell’s treatment may lead to revision of protocols for other catatonic patientsoften considered missing by the health system.

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