‘I want to live for many years’: Courage of Brazilian man born with ‘upside-down head’

A Brazilian man born with an “upside-down” head has told local media he dreams of reviving his motivational speaking career next month after a lonely year of self-isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Claudio Vieira de Oliveira, 44, lives in the small municipality of Monte Santo, in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia.

‘Claudinho’, as he is known to friends, suffers from arthrogryposis multiplex congenita.

He has atrophy of the leg muscles, his arms are glued to his chest, and, most strikingly, his head is turned all the way back, supported by his back.

Despite doctors believing he would not survive past 24 hours, Claudinho is now in his 44th year.

Claudio Vieira de Oliveira lives with his legs atrophied, his arms glued to his chest and his head turned back, supported by his back. Credit: @claudio.vieiradeoliveira/Newsflash/Australscope

His latest year, however, has been unusually quiet due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Claudinho’s disabilities had never previously prevented him from doing the things he enjoyed. However, he has recently found himself having to give up many of the activities he loves.

He told Brazilian news site G1: “I’ve never had (difficulties), my life is normal.

“I’m in full-on quarantine because this COVID is very aggressive, it’s lethal, so we’re scared. Spare me, God, from this damned illness.

Claudio Vieira de Oliveira says he lives a normal life.
Claudio Vieira de Oliveira says he lives a normal life. Credit: @claudio.vieiradeoliveira/Newsflash/Australscope

“I’m being over twice as careful, I’ve been isolating for over a year and I only leave the house to sort out things that only I can do, such as banking.”

Claudinho has never let his condition hold him back. Since the age of seven, he has walked on his knees, and he learnt to read and write at home from his mother.

Despite having an upside-down head, Claudinho has no trouble seeing, breathing, eating or drinking.

To date, Claudinho has launched a DVD, an autobiography and he has been imparting motivational speeches since 2000.

Claudio Vieira de Oliveira wants to return to public speaking as soon as the pandemic allows.
Claudio Vieira de Oliveira wants to return to public speaking as soon as the pandemic allows. Credit: @claudio.vieiradeoliveira/Newsflash/Australscope

Given the ongoing pandemic, it has been a while since Claudinho has addressed a crowd.

He told G1: “I’m missing it so much. I’ve got a speech in the municipality of Bezerra, in the state of Pernamubco, scheduled for 28th April. If the pandemic eases, we’ll go ahead.”

Claudinho also hopes he can get back to his social work after the pandemic. He volunteers with the ‘Alegra-te’ Christian educational project, which works with vulnerable children.

He told local media: “I want to give my talks again and live for many years.”

What is arthrogryposis multiplex congenita?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, arthrogryposis is a term used to describe a variety of conditions involving joint stiffness, leading to a reduced range of motion.

The cause is unknown but it is thought to be related to inadequate room given to an unborn baby in the uterus and low amniotic fluid.

Symptoms vary greatly and often both the arms and the legs of an individual are involved.

Whilst there is no cure for the condition, there are ways motion can be improved.

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