Meet Richard Lawson
State of the art surgery to halt paralysis for local veteran
Vietnam veteran Richard Lawson thought pain and injury had been a part of his past. Until recently, he was taking long walks with his wife Ellen and enjoying his retirement. Last September, his health took a sudden and dramatic turn. Over the span of a few short weeks, he went from being slightly unstable on his feet to being unable to use his arms to feed himself. His condition was deteriorating quickly.
Neurosurgeon Nicholas Coppa, MD saw Larson in his office and was concerned. After listening to his history, it became obvious that there was more going on than a typical pain syndrome. Larson had advanced spinal cord compression in his neck. It interfered with his motor coordination, balance and sensation.
“This was an easy diagnosis. It became very clear-cut that this case extends far beyond ‘my neck hurts’,” said Coppa.
Surgery isn’t always a first line treatment, but without it there was a very real chance of lasting paralysis. “I remember when I told him it was an easy diagnosis, I knew where the problem was and there was a treatment for it, there was an expression of relief on Mr. Lawson’s face,” said Coppa.
A few short weeks later, Larson underwent an anterior cervical corpectomy with fusion- a procedure where the damaged discs in the neck are removed relieving pressure on the compressed nerves. A bone graft is inserted for stability.
You can continue to learn more about Richard Larson’s story by watching the following video.