The case of the American April Burrell is not just any case, not even for the world of psychiatry. April is a woman who has been catatonic for over 20 years, and now he has woken up. The exclusivity of your case can mean a revolution for psychiatry, since leaves a sea of questions to scientists on several aspects that seemed to be more than consolidated.
A traumatic event at the age of 21 left her catatonic
April Burrell was a bright and outgoing student at Maryland Eastern Shore University who saw her life turn upside down overnight. She fell ill with schizophrenia at age 21 due to a traumatic event and with the passage of time, she remained in a state of catatonia that prevented her from moving on her own, blinking for long periods of time, or not even remembering who she was. Everything pointed to a negative prognosis, which she did not ensure if she was going to be able to get out of that state.
The disease he was diagnosed with was a severe form of schizophrenia, which affects around 1% of the world’s population and can drastically alter the way in which sufferers behave and perceive reality. The solution, a novel medical treatment.
A novel treatment has saved her
A group of more than 70 experts from various parts of the world led by Dr. Sander Markx, director of Columbia University’s Precision Psychiatric Laboratory, discovered that the young woman suffered from an autoimmune disease called “lupus.” This ailment caused her body to attack itself with the antibodies that were produced in excess by her own cells. This pathology led to a part of the brain, specifically to areas prone to cause psychosis or schizophrenia.
“She was the first person I saw as a patient,” says Sander Markx, who in 2000 was still a medical student when he met the American. “She is, to this day, lthe sickest patient I’ve ever seen”stressed the psychiatrist.
His family, euphoric with the recovery
“It was about a new person”
His brother, Guy Burrell, was enthusiastic about his sister’s awakening. “When he arrived with us, we thought he was a new person,” said Guy Burrell, who added that “he knew us all and remembered things from when we were children (…) he hugged me and held my hand. We were so happy we could have done a parade because we had never seen her like this before.
A discovery for psychiatry
With this finding, scientists from many parts of the world such as Germany and Great Britain are conducting research on patients similar to April Burrell, and have discovered that underlying autoimmune and inflammatory processes could be more common in patients with mental illness.
Although the number of people with this pathology is small, the results could have an impact on the treatment of millions of people with psychiatric illnesses.
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