As a result of breathing problems in the early days of his life, Tomas has Cerebral Palsy. ¨Cerebral¨ refers to the two halves or hemispheres of the brain and ¨Palsy¨ describes any disorder that impairs control of body movement. Cerebral Palsy causes poor coordination, poor balance, abnormal muscle tone and growth and joint problems.
There are different types of Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia which affects one side of the body, Diplegia which affects the legs and Quadraplegia which affects both the legs and the arms. Tomas has Diplegia with partial Quadraplegia. This affects the use of his legs and also to some degree his arms and hands. He has delayed muscle growth causing his leg muscles to be short, his joints to become stiff and his ankles and feet are badly positioned requiring calipers to help them to grow in the correct position. He also had scoliosis (curvature of the spine) so required a specially adapted buggy and high chair to keep his back and pelvis in the correct position.
In his early years he could not hold his head up, roll over, sit up, eat anything but liquidised food or stand or walk due to this condition. His hands were clenched and he could not pick things up or hold anything in his hands without assistance. There was also a high risk of his hips dislocating due to lack of weight bearing use which in typical children in the early years promotes the bedding of the hip into the socket.
Due to all of the above issues it was extremely important to ensure Tomas received regular physiotherapy sessions from a very early age. Stretching and strengthening excercises were performed both in his physiotherapy sessions and at home to improve his leg and arm positioning and strength and therefore improving his ability to use his legs and arms. We also had a special neck collar made to wear part of the time used special strengthening exercises for his neck to help him to hold his head up. We encouraged him to stand and weight bear on our laps and by walking him slowly but often placing one foot in front of the other until his legs became stronger and he slowly learned how to walk. As soon as he could walk we obtained a metal frame walker on wheels (with a belt attached for us to guide it since he could not see) and gradually increased the distances he walked to build strength in his legs and ensure his hips formed correctly to reduce the risk of hip dislocation.
We bought a special dummy with a gauze attached to put soft fruit in to encourage him to bite and chew so that he could understand what he needed to do to eat more solid food (since he could not learn this from watching others due to his blindness). Learning the required movements of his jaw and his tongue also helped in developing his ability to speak since comprehensible speech is strongly dependent on the his ability learn to move his tongue into the correct positions to make each required sound in speach.
All of the above past on ongoing therapies, methods and stimulation have been invaluable in helping Tomas progress in areas which were said to have been hopeless. We are continuing the physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, touch, learning and speech stimulations sessions and have also recently begun additional sessions of disabled horseriding which has been proven to improve all of the above areas. (See the blog entry and video entitled ´First time horseriding at the Hippodrome disabled horseriding centre´).
Despite all the obstacles Tomas has to overcome, to try and acheive just the normal day to day activities that typical children can undertake without any effort, he is a positive and happy little boy. As a result of the regular therapy sessions he attends every day Tomas has made great strides over the past few years and with ongoing dedication and love we will do all we can to acheive ongoing improvements to his quality of life in the future, against all the odds.