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After airstrike spinal injury, Fatima dreams of walking again

Explosive weapons Rehabilitation

Fatima Ahmed Arj, 20, was paralyzed from the waist down after her family’s apartment in west Mosul was hit by an airstrike in March 2017, causing damage to her spine.

A woman wearing a red blouse and black headscarf sits in a bed with a slight smile across her face.

Fatima Ahmed Arj, 20, in her home in west Mosul. | © T. Nicholson / HI

After the incident, Fatima’s family couldn’t afford physical therapy sessions. Fatima spent years lying in bed after the spinal injury.

An HI physical therapist works with a patient who is lying in bed. He lifts her leg during exercises.During an initial examination, an HI physical therapist discovered that Fatima has feeling down to her knees. She began participating in rehabilitation sessions focused on muscle strength training and can already move her leg. She uses an air mattress now to improve blood circulation and prevent bed sores.

Her physical therapist is hopeful that Fatima can follow a slow recovery procedure, to build up strength, then balance, and hopefully walk with a frame and then a cane. 

“If I was able to walk again, I’d like to go to my mother and hug her. She helps me so I’d like to reward her.” 

Fatima also receives mental health support to gain confidence and motivation for the future. She hopes to return to her studies, which were interrupted by her injury.

“I’m very eager to go back to school. My dream since I was a child is to become a doctor.”

Date published: 06/28/23


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