Braving the Odds

Sunday, October 14, 2012 McFearless 1 Comments Category :

Braving the Odds

by MN Sermiki (3rd Yr MBBS)

As a part of the routine practical classes of 3rd year MBBS i was attending the orthopedic ward earlier this year in March. There i happened to come across a little girl with rounded cheeks and an innocent smile on her face. She was accompanied by her mother. I, together with my fellows, decided to take history of that girl i.e to inquire of her reason for visiting the hospital. After the initial protocol we asked her what brought her to the ortho-ward. She didn't tell anything except to show us both her arms. I was shocked to see two lifeless arms dangling by her side. Her mother told us that she has been suffering from this condition since birth. In order to find out the real cause we asked her mother regarding any complications during the delivery of her daughter. Her response was in affirmative:Breech birth, a condition whereby a baby is delivered foot-first through the birth canal instead of head-first as happens in a normal birth. To add to the complication was an inexperienced midwife who aggravated the delivery and resulted in this unfortunate birth. While her mother was busy with our questions, that little girl of 11, sat silently and listened to our conversation. She might had no or a little idea at that time about her condition but judging by the peculiar position of her arms and hands ,my fellows and i had already made a diagnosis in our minds: little Saira was suffering from Erb's Palsy.

Erb's Palsy,simply put, is a condition in which there is weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the shoulder and the arm. The classic position of the arms is an inwardly rotated arm with an extended elbow and a pronated hand-thus also called as the 'policeman's tip hand' or the 'waiter's tip hand.' Our shoulder and arm is supplied by the Brachial plexus which is a fine network of nerves having their origin in the neck. Nerves from the neck traverse the region above the clavicle to enter into the arm. The brachial plexus in addition to innervating the shoulder and the arm also supplies the forearm and hand but the nerves involved are different. The muscles innervated by the upper trunk include Deltoids, the main abductor of the arm; Brachialis, the flexor of the arm; and a number of other muscles of the shoulder. Injury to the upper trunk of brachial plexus occurs in a variety of conditions that involves an excessive increase in the angle between the neck and the shoulder as occurs during an accident or a mishandled normal/breech delivery case as happened in the case of Saira. Excessive force applied to pull the baby out of the birth canal may result in injury to the upper trunk and, consequently Erb's Palsy. Injury can also be sustained if the said trunk is severed on account of stab or bullet injury. Worldwide cases of Erb's Palsy has decreased(1-2/1000 birth) owing to better techniques and advancements in medical science yet some cases do arise in areas where the quality of health and awareness both are low.
When asked about Saira's education her mother told us that she has been going to school since her childhood. Now she was studying in class three. She said this with an obvious air of pride which was emanating from her speech. She would take her to the school every morning and then wait there till the classes ended. My fellows and i were overjoyed to hear that. However the most amazing part of the story was when she asked little Saira to write her name for us. We were a bit taken aback on hearing this that how could she write with both her arms paralyzed. But there it came, slowly and quietly, placing the lead pencil between her right big toe and the toe next to it she positioned herself comfortably and then wrote her name in Urdu. I stared at that writing with awe!neat and perfect. All the time she was doing this and her mother told us that she is among the best students of her class. Little Saira was now beginning to blush. Redness filled her cheeks and she lowered her gaze to her bed but she had no idea that how her perseverance over the years has made her parents proud. Now it was not only the parents but i myself too who was feeling pride in her. She was not allowing her condition to overcome her determination and the more she grew the more mature was becoming her determination to excel and to show to the others that look i have defeated my fate and now its me who is going to architect my on destiny.
Back at my hostel i was thinking that how great these people are who changed the world despite being handicapped. My mind clicked on Beethoven and Helen Keller who did splendid works in their lives albeit physically impaired. These are but just two instances of the hundreds of such examples. Saira’s condition may reverse but her ambitions won't. She has come this far and she will go further and further. These are the people who are not just special because of some physical defect rather they are The Special people who conquer the world by sheer determination. For me these are the true heroes.



  1. that's what u were doin I got that at last.. :)