On Tuesday 2/1/11 Braulio Estima underwent cervical artificial disc replacement surgery to correct two prolapsed disks, C4 & C5. Dr. Peter Hamlyn of Princess Grace Hospital in London performed the surgery. Braulio is a 3x world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion.
In June 2010 Braulio injured his neck in a weird training accident; while going for a takedown his partner countered and he landed on his forehead with his partner on top. He was paralyzed for a few minutes and spent three days in intensive care. He was off the mats for four months.
He surprised everyone when he announced he would compete in the IBJJF European Open January 30th. His surgery was scheduled for February 1st. Braulio was moved to compete by the passing of his friend Steve Fan.
[social][/social]Steve Fan was a purple belt under Braulio. He fought a heroic battle against kidney cancer. After the doctors removed a kidney, Steve was back on the mats to train. After femur replacement surgery Steve was back on the mats to train. Braulio dedicated his January win to Steve and Steve’s family. Braulio, “Steve was a true warrior.”
On Saturday Braulio attended Steve’s funeral in Birmingham. On Sunday Braulio took gold in the middle heavy division at the IBJJF European Open in Lisbon Portugal. On Tuesday he was in London for surgery. He says, “It was a crazy weekend.. lots of high emotions. It was a very good competition because I fought to a home crowd and all the people were supporting me, not only for myself but because they knew the real reason why I was there. After the last match it was very emotional. Lots of people at the venue were crying.”
[einset][/einset]Now a week after the surgery Braulio says he feels great. Says his neck feels better than even before his original injury. He already has recovered his full range of motion. He is going to physical therapy everyday and is taking an anti-inflammatory for the pain.
Artificial disk replacement surgery is still in its infancy in the United States. Cervical disk replacement is experimental and double cervical artificial disk replacement surgery unheard of. When Braulio was advised of the risks he decided to go forward because staying where he was wasn’t an option. Dr Hamlyn believes Braulio will fight MMA again. Braulio states that this doctor has put professional rugby players back on the playing field.
Says Braulio, “Did you see my x-rays on my Facebook wall? Its crazy, I feel like wolverine.” Future opponents take note.