Eleven-year old Athul, fondly known as Kannan hopes that he will regain the ability to walk owing to the kindness and generosity of his fellow citizens. This little boy from Edakochi is right now at the Myopathy Hospital by the Jeevan foundation in a small hamlet called Veeravanallur in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. He is getting treated for the condition with physiotherapy, braces and traction.
Since there is no known cure for Becker muscular dystrophy that usually affects the legs, physical therapy is the only long term solution to help the patient’s symptoms and make life easier for him/her. This kind of dystrophy usually affects only male children and the symptoms appear between ages 5-15. This was what happened in the case of Athul too. “He started having difficulties to walk when he was six years old. He would randomly stumble and fall on his knees. His legs would just give away. When he was nine, he lost nearly all ability to walk as his muscles became really weak,” says Indira, his 68- year old grandma.
In an original video report by Manorama, Athul or Kannan is seen to be receiving physiotherapy which seems to be causing him a lot of pain. Initially when Athul was facing walking troubles, his family took him to Ayurveda doctors. Even after prolonged massage treatments for more than 4 months, there weren’t much signs of improvement. It is then, that the doctors realized that it could be more than what it seems and asked them to get him checked at Myopathy Hospital, where they got to know that it is muscular dystrophy. Myopathy Hospital was founded by Tamil actor Napolean or Kumaresan Duraisamy whose son suffers from muscular dystrophy.
The physical therapy Athul needs from this hospital specialising in muscular dystrophy isn’t something this low income family can afford. Cost for per treatment in a basic room without a bathroom is INR 17,500. “Besides this, the nurses and people who help in bathing Athul and take him for bathroom breaks need to be paid too,” says the concerned grandmother.
Athul got close to 8 months’ treatment from the hospital more than two years ago. He is back availing therapy since the last six months now. Muscular dystrophy is said to affect a person’s cognitive ability with time. However, this hasn’t dampened Athul willingness to learn. The youth who barely completed third standard, had to skip fourth standard but has written semester exams for the fifth standard.
Athul’s father, Manoj, who is a daily-wage labourer can barely make ends meet with his son’s treatment and other everyday expenses. Currently the boy is mainly under the care of his grandma and step mother since the father is always away due to work- Athul’s mother passed away when he was younger. “I can push his wheelchair and take him for therapy. But that’s where my part ends,” says a distraught grandma who wishes to see her grandson lead a normal life.
Here’s how you too, can help Athul get optimum treatment to ease his condition and help lead a normal life.
Account Number: 408902010019225
Name of Bank: Union Bank