Brett Curry didn’t think it was strange when he started experiencing persistent back, shoulder and neck pains. At 49, he knew a lifetime of grueling work as a cabinet maker would eventually catch up to him.
|Just a few months after his surgery for a cervical spinal cord compression, Brett Curry had a full range of motion and returned to work.
But then a few weeks went by and pain led to symptoms like not being able to lift his arms above his head and not being able to button his shirt. A few more weeks went by and he began having difficulty speaking and walking.
On a Sunday afternoon, Brett and his wife Lisa had their three grown children over. They were all comparing their signatures when Lisa noticed her husband was unable to sign his own name.
“Individually we could explain away the symptoms,” Lisa said. “In total, we realized there was a problem.”
Lisa accompanied Brett to the family’s doctor, who referred Brett to Duc Tran, M.D., a neurologist with Neurology Consultants of Dallas, P.A., and on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas when he saw the scope of his symptoms.
“I guess I shrugged off most of my symptoms for so long because my dad taught me how to be tough,” Brett said.
Brett was put through a series of motor skills tests and had an MRI performed.
After suffering with symptoms that confused and frustrated Brett for the last 10 weeks, Tran made a quick and revelatory diagnosis: he had a cervical spinal cord compression. The compression was preventing his brain from exchanging messages with the body, causing partial paralysis.
Surgery was required and carried out by Michael Desaloms, M.D., a neurosurgeon with Dallas Neurological & Spine and on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas.
Desaloms performed a cervical spine decompression and reconstruction on Brett. He removed two discs and bone spurs on the spinal cord and then performed a bone graft and replaced the discs with artificial spacers held in place by a titanium plate.
The difficult surgery took two hours and was successful, but Desaloms prepared Lisa for the likelihood that Brett’s recovery might take months and his stay in the hospital may be lengthy.
To her surprise, Brett lifted his arms over his head like he was signaling a touchdown when she came to see him in post-op. He hadn’t performed this simple movement in weeks.
“It was pretty miraculous, it really was,” Lisa said.
Just as miraculous, was Brett being discharged the next day after Desaloms saw that all of his motor skills had returned.
“He was remarkably better,” Desaloms said. “He had a dramatic recovery. It was very gratifying.”
“In my opinion, Dr. Desaloms is a genius,” Brett said.
Just a few months after his surgery, Brett was back to work, performing office work and serving as a courier. He has completed 12 sessions of physical therapy to help him regain the strength he lost and has begun another four-week physical therapy regiment, lifting weights and riding a stationary bike.
“I’ve never been taken better care of than I was at Texas Health,” Brett said. “And it’s a good thing since I couldn’t take care of myself.”