UAE: Once gasping for breath, this Emirati woman fights all odds with a smile

A team of multi-specialists help her wither her motor skills, communication and more, improving quality of life


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 3 Mar 2023, 3:28 PM

A 45-year-old Emirati woman suffering from myotonic dystrophy – a genetic condition causing progressive muscle loss and weakness – is on a pathway to long-term recovery thanks to a team of multi-specialists from Abu Dhabi.

Today Bushra Mahmoud Al Noubi is a relieved woman even as her treatment continues. However, she was gasping for breath when she was first admitted to Amana Healthcare Women and Children Long-term Care Hospital. Specialists treating Bushra share with Khaleej Times details about her journey and thus giving an insight into the different processes of long-term medical care.

Dr Shaji Azad, anaesthesia specialist, said the patient had difficulty breathing, moving her limbs, and was placed on a ventilator.

Dr Shaji Azad
Dr Shaji Azad

“Bushra came to us with muscular dystrophy, which is the generalised weakness of the muscles. She was completely bed-bound and was entirely dependent on her caregivers for all activities.”

She was offered treatment by a multidisciplinary team, including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dieticians. The medical team strived to enhance her general health by minimising infections, improving muscle strength, maintaining functionality and motivating her to be self-reliant.

“Bushra succeeded in becoming less reliant on her caregivers. We are delighted to see her progressing in her journey,” Dr Azad said.

Ann Louise M. Abalon
Ann Louise M. Abalon

Ann Louise M. Abalon, physiotherapist, recollected how Bushra was disinterested in any activities and was almost in a depressive state of mind finding it difficult to manage her emotions.

“She had trouble communicating with the staff. It was challenging to understand her needs. But now, there has been a complete shift in her attitude. Bushra is extremely involved in social events, making it a point to speak to other patients and staff. She communicates her needs and is able to actively express her likes and dislikes,” Ann noted.

Improving motor skills

Danielle Le Brasse, occupational therapist, underlined that the treatment plan aimed to enhance patient involvement and encourage her to do basic tasks on her own.

“Our treatment began with motivating Bushra. She began to adapt to the environment after a little encouragement. She became motivated once she recognised her ability to perform basic tasks without support.”

Holding her mobile phone, TV remote control, putting on makeup and painting her nails were some of the self-practice tasks to improve her motor skills.

“It’s little things like these that have sped up her recovery. Most of what we do as occupational therapists is ensuring that the patient starts to gain more confidence in themselves, and to trust that certain tasks are within their reach.”

Danielle Le Brasse
Danielle Le Brasse

Bushra has now started to move around the facility using her electric wheelchair. She would do rounds of the garden, greet everyone, stop by to check on fellow residents’ babies. Over the past months, she has built strong bonds with staff and other patients. And she has a solid support system in her own family members, who along with the medical team have been behind Bushra throughout this journey.

“Everyone who cares for Bushra has come to know her on a personal level,” Le Brasse said.

And now Bushra has become very active too, especially as she plays a game of cards.

“Recently, we had a new nurse join us for a game of cards. While Bushra always competes to win, she was very kind and helped the new nurse in understanding the game, showing her the rules, and demonstrating how to play. Bushra is inherently a supportive individual. We often see her encouraging our paediatric patients during their playgroup sessions, motivating them to work with each other. The Bushra we see today is drastically different to the Bushra who first walked through our doors, and her recovery is a testament to her determination,” Le Brasse added.

Recently she went on an outdoor tour by visiting a zoo, where she gleefully took photos of animals and birds. Bushra is actively recovering, gaining strength and completing more tasks individually. She is determined to fight all odds with a smile.


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