Yasmin was diagnosed with cancer when she was just a few months old. As a result, and at the age of just one, her mother was told that Yasmin had also suffered a spinal cord injury. She was also warned that Yasmin had less than a 5% chance of survival and would be unable to use or feel her body below the waist for the rest of her life.
‘My pregnancy scans hadn’t shown anything abnormal but a couple of weeks after her birth I felt something wasn’t quite right as Yasmin was barely moving her legs,’ explains Jessica. ’By the time she was diagnosed, doctors had found a tumour almost 600mls in volume which had infiltrated her spine, causing the spinal cord injury. Yasmin weighed only 6 kilos – it didn’t seem possible!’
Whilst the SCI was acutely serious, the cancer had to be treated first so Yasmin didn’t reach the specialist spinal cord injury team at Stoke Mandeville until nearly two years later.
Despite their best efforts at Stoke Mandeville, Jessica still faced the devastating scenario that Yasmin would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. While looking for any help that could improve her mobility and strength, Jessica discovered the pioneering spinal rehabilitation work being conducted by Neurokinex Kids.
‘I was absolutely amazed; the place is so vibrant. It is lively, colourful and so spacious,’ she says. ‘It is full of toys and such a happy place.’
Jessica took Yasmin for an initial visit and straightaway she wanted to get on the swing to be active and engage.
‘I knew immediately that this was the place where we needed to be.’
When Yasmin started at Neurokinex Kids she had very little muscle tone, a weak core section and was unable to weight bear on her legs for any length of time.
‘She couldn’t really do anything independently,’ explains Jessica. ‘She still had her gators (walking aids for children) and splints. However, Neurokinex has changed all that! They have given Yasmin back her core strength, muscle tone and control. She is able to bear her own weight and take independent steps, stand for five or six minutes without holding onto anything and is able to get around and play independently.’
Two years after starting at Neurokinex, Jessica took Yasmin to Disneyworld in Florida; this was something which, quite simply, had been impossible to conceive happening not long before. Yasmin used her wheelchair and crutches to get her around the park.
‘They go on the back of the wheelchair, so when Yasmin gets tired she puts them on the back and uses the wheelchair instead.’
Yasmin’s stronger steps are still continuing and she now uses Neurokinex’s ground-breaking Locomotor Trainer, a specially-designed treadmill device which helps her find a better stepping pattern. She also uses its specialist electrical stimulation device to bring further gains by firing up nerve and muscle responses within her body. Next on her rehab journey is to build strength and mobility in her ankles to give better foot control which, in turn, will mean fewer pressure sores.
Lucy Church, Yasmin’s trainer said ‘Yasmin is a pleasure to work with and always tries her best. A big focus recently has been working on her ankle range and mobility using our Wide Pulse Stimulation device alongside weight bearing.’
While working towards her next goals, Yasmin made such a good recovery from cancer and spinal cord injury that she managed to walk into Santa’s grotto completely unaided in December 2022, a far cry from her first Christmas which was spent in hospital following her cancer diagnosis.
‘Before this, Yasmin was limited to her wheelchair and was less able to engage fully in our festive fun. Being able to able to walk into the grotto to Santa all by herself was such a special moment and another great achievement for her,’ says Jessica.