Meet Our Patients (29): Aung Htun Lin’s Story — Cervical Spine Fractures

33-year-old Aung Htun Lin has been admitted to Mae Tao Clinic for over 6 months. His body was paralyzed due to the accident. After receiving physical therapy, he is able to move, eat and stand up alone with/out the aid of assist devices. To make him stand up alone, MTC’s physiotherapists have continuously provided physiotherapy for over a half year. Sometimes the staff strained their back as they were pulling their muscles too much to carry the patient’s limp body.



Aung Htun Lin is 33 years old. He is single and lives with his parents in Mon State,[1] Burma/Myanmar. He has 5 siblings that one of them passed away. His family is the subsistence farmer, living in a quiet and peaceful village. He used to work in Bangkok, Thailand to support his family as the government seized their field for the development plan.

When Aung Htun Lin was in his village, he got into a motorbike accident. He was unconscious for 10 days and his body was paralyzed.  He visited state-owned hospitals from Mawlamyine[2] to Yangon. Nevertheless, his condition has shown no improvement. Yangon hospital discharged him as his condition didn’t seem to be better. He had to come back to the village. Medical expenses cost around MMK 700,000 (USD 525). His parents already borrowed MMK 2,000,000 (USD 1,500),[3] which is over an average annual salary in Burma.

MTC former staff who lives in the same village heard what happened to Aung Htun Lin, and suggested that he should get the treatment at Mae Tao Clinic as the clinic provides free healthcare service. He came with his mom to the MTC by car which takes almost a day.

He was diagnosed as having Cervical 3, 4 and 5 fractures — his cervical spine was broken. His lower and upper limb muscle activations were very poor. He couldn’t move at all and couldn’t digest but he could speak. He has been admitted to the In-Patient Department (IPD) for 6 and a half month to date. During the first week at the IPD, MTC physiotherapists provided education in bedsores and medics provided supportive treatment. The physiotherapists have continuously provided physiotherapy from the second week of admission. Aung Htun Lin’s condition has evidently improved — now he can move his body and eat alone with the aid of assist device. During the interview with the patient and his mom, they told us that they need to go back to the village as they have been hospitalized over a half year. The senior physiotherapist hopes to keep continuing his physiotherapy and has persuaded the patient and his mom but cannot do anything against patients’ own wishes.

“It took us for a while to see he stands up alone and during the physiotherapy, I strained my back several times as I had to hold him from behind to let him rise to his feet. He had no strength to hold himself. But after the regular and repeated physiotherapy, he can move and stand up alone, yet he needs a support. I have a big hope that I can make his condition better but I cannot make a decision for them because they do also have their family affairs,” the physiotherapist said after the interview with the patient.

Aung Htun Lin might have more hardships to get better after discharge. Nevertheless, he said he is happy that now he can move. During the interview, his mom kept saying that “without the MTC, my son might have died months ago, so I really thank the health staff at MTC to take good care of my son.”

Physiotherapy staff manages an average of 50 patients a month. In 2016 MTC staff received training of the trainer on physiotherapy issues. The physiotherapy team also assisted with training of the first intake of nursing students at MTC.

While our numbers of consultations and admissions were slightly down the bed occupancy rate increased as did the length of stay of our patients. There are more basic primary health care facilities opening up in Eastern Burma and MTC is part of the Health Systems Strengthening project to support these clinics. Our data shows us that we are seeing more complicated cases coming to our clinic as these patients are not able to be treated in Burma.

[1] Mon State is an administrative division of Myanmar. It lies between Kayin State to the east, the Andaman Sea to the west, Bago Region to the north and Tanintharyi Region to the south, also having a short border with Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province at its south-eastern tip. [Wikipedia:]

[2] Mawlamyine is the fourth largest city of Burma/Myanmar, 300 km south east of Yangon. The city is the capital and largest city of Mon State, Burma/Myanmar and is the main trading center and seaport in south eastern Myanmar. [Wikipedia:

[3] According to the World Bank data, GDP per capita in Myanmar is USD 1,275 in 2016.