Typically associated with older people, strokes can in fact happen at any age. But when a child is affected, the event can all the more devastating.
Morrello is a private neurorehabilitation service based in Newport South Wales specialising in rehabilitation packages for adults and children with long-term neurological conditions.
Morrello is the only member of the Independent Neurorehabilitation Providers Alliance (INPA) based in Wales.
Billy (not his real name) survived an ischemic stroke at just 13 years old, resulting in paralysis on the right-hand side of his body
Mum Janet (not her real name) explains:
“Before finding Morrello we had hit a brick wall and lost all hope.
“[We were] told the devastating news that Billy wouldn’t use his arm again, would never ride a bike or do most of the of physical activities he was so used to doing.
“We as a family couldn’t accept this and knew where there is determination and motivation, this couldn’t be the end result for Billy.”
While researching what to do next, the family came across Morrello.
The clinic has a paediatric treatment area with access to a full range of the latest rehabilitation technologies including VR, Motek, Tyromotion and Bioness.
After contacting the clinic, Billy was invited in for an assessment.
The physio chatted with Billy to help establish his goals for the programme.
A highly active child, Billy’s ambitious goals included running, riding his electric bike and being able to climb over fences when playing outside with friends.
“After our first assessment at Morrello, our lives completely did a 360!
“The in-depth knowledge and expertise were second to none and Billy’s little eyes lit up when they told him, ‘we can help you.’
“It was that glimmer of hope you hold on to when you face such a traumatic event.
“From that day on we never looked back!”
The Morrello team conducted a gait analysis, concluding that they would have to focus on increasing the range of movement around Billy’s ankle and hip and improve hip stability and general strength and fitness.
Billy began initial gait and balance rehabilitation, including the use of a wide range of the latest rehab technologies.
The Motek C-Mill augmented feedback Virtual Reality treadmill helped him work on his agility, fitness, endurance and speed.
The Bioness L300 Functional Electronic Stimulation (FES) device helped him focus on his gait.
Meanwhile, the therapists helped Billy to carry out functional strengthening activities within rugby and football – his favourite sports – and practiced climbing the stairs.
“Billy showed mass improvement from the very beginning and every part of his sessions were tailored to his needs and enjoyments.
“Using the state of the art technology, Billy was never bored.”
Having demonstrated clear improvement in gait, balance and general motor skills, Billy began an intensive upper-limb training programme.
Billy and his family worked with the Morrello team to establish functional goals for the programme ahead of the first session.
These included being able to use a fork with his right hand while cutting food with his left and the ability to throw and catch a ball with either hand while running.
The programme once again utlilised the rehab technologies, including the Saebo glove, Tyrostation (Tyromotion), GripAble device and the Bioness Interactive Therapy System (BITS).
The sessions involved a range of functional activities including eating, dressing, tying his shoelaces, drawing, lifting/carrying and cycling.
Billy progressed well despite challenges in his personal life which reduced the amount of hours he was able to attend the programme.
He was very proud to be able to get on his electric mountain bike by himself halfway during the intensive block and by the end of the block, he spent most evenings cycling for miles with his friends.
The Morrello team conducted a review of his outcome measures after the six-week intervention.
“The multifaceted therapy input helped Billy achieve and exceed most of his goals and was essential in keeping him engaged and motivated, with flexibility in delivery where necessary.
“Repetition of task training was made possible through creativity from the therapy team and Billy’s perseverance at challenging moments.
“Billy is motivated to continue to work on reaching his physical potential and the Morrello team is looking forward to supporting him with his return to school and future rehabilitation goals.”
Delighted with her son’s progress, Janet says:
“We spent five day per week at the centre for hours on end in his intensive block of six weeks.
“It was during this time Billy was taught to walk with hardly any faults.
“He regained fine movement of his hand, which he couldn’t even use at all before.
“Billy is now able to do all the things we were previously told he would never do!
“His overall goal was to ride his bike, which again, with the amazing support of the team and Billy’s determination, he completed this and is now able to ride his bike untended.
“We all cried happy tears on this day!
“We as a family cannot thank Morrello enough for everything they have achieved with Billy.
“The Morrello team literally do change lives!”
This is an excerpt from our Special Report – Innovations in Stroke
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