Young Theo Snelling, 6, has four-limb dystonic cerebral palsy. His condition means he cannot walk unaided and is not always in control of his movements. Despite the challenges of his condition, Theo is fiercely independent boy and will stop at nothing to gain a little control and independence. Since joining Neurokinex Kids Theo’s progress has taken several steps forward – literally
Theo had a traumatic birth at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill in July 2012. “His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and even had a knot in it: we were lucky he survived,” says his mother Laura. “I remember those early days so vividly: he was in special care and didn’t have a suck or gag reflex so had to be nasal tube fed as it was too dangerous for him to feed orally,” she recalls. “At one point we were transferred to St George’s Hospital in London and it was quite surreal as the London 2012 Olympic Games had just begun and the incredible atmosphere and excitement in London contrasted greatly with how we were feeling.”
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
Aged just eight months, Theo was diagnosed with dystonic cerebral palsy – with the dystonia aspect limiting his ability to control his movements. He needs round-the clock care and help with dressing, eating and toileting. Unable to speak, Theo communicates via an electronic device. He attends Valence School, a special education facility in Westerham, where he is encouraged to engage in physical activity as well as classroom work suited to his ability.
Theo finds it hard to sit up or straighten his legs and adopts a ‘W’ sitting posture which puts his hips out of alignment. Laura was keen to find some rehabilitation therapy to help strengthen Theo’s core, build his leg muscle strength and, ultimately, improve his posture and walking function.
“Neurokinex was recommended to us and we were especially keen to try it as it has a bespoke children’s gym with lots of unique equipment to suit youngsters,” she says. “Being so young, Theo learns through play and the equipment at Neurokinex Kids and the wonderfully engaging manner of its therapists suits him perfectly.” It’s particularly important that Theo is having fun to stay relaxed during this treatment: if he doesn’t like something he will literally seize up and be unable to achieve anything. “The Neurokinex trainers make Theo feel relaxed and happy: he loves his sessions there.”
Perfecting ‘Stomping Feet’!
The results speak for themselves. Theo started at Neurokinex Kids at Gatwick in October 2018 and participates in activities and games that encourage his interaction, co-ordination, core stability and leg strength.
“We start each session with some gentle stretches and vibration training to relieve Theo’s high spasticity,” explains Marilla Cameron, Neurokinex trainer. “Having relaxed his muscles, he is then ready to work. One of his highlights is using the Locomotor Treadmill where he is held in a harness that takes much of his weight to enable to him to walk,” she says. “Because of the tension in his legs, Theo naturally walks on tip toes but our therapy places his feet and legs correctly on the Locomotor Trainer so he learns how to land his whole foot down in a movement we call ‘Stomping Feet’,” explains Marilla. In just over six months, Theo has made noticeable improvements in his seated posture and core control as well as improved walking with his walking frame. He attends Neurokinex for one hour a week and in the summer holiday is looking to do an intensive block week of work to boost his progress.
Theo has gained a great deal of core strength which helps him sit better and put his legs nearly straight. This is a big advance as it means his hips are better aligned while his improved core and leg strength mean he is walking better with this mobility frame.
“I’m so pleased we found Neurokinex,” says Laura. “We don’t know what the future holds for Theo but it’s important to keep him moving, stimulating his muscles where possible and keep those pathways open between his brain and muscles.
“Neurokinex is the perfect balance of work and fun,” says Laura. “They understand what Theo likes and tailor the programme to suit him. There is a lot of interactive play and distraction to fully engage Theo in the ‘games’: I can only imagine the freedom he feels in these sessions.”