Gabriella is a gorgeous 17-month-old from Southgate in North London. A much longed for baby, Gabriella sadly asphyxiated during birth and so emerged not breathing. Instead of being greeted with her parents’ cuddles, little Gabriella was placed in a medical coma and ‘cooled’ for 72 hours, spending the first five and a half weeks of her life in intensive care.
We are so fortunate that our sparky little daughter is alive, but as a result of the brain damage Gabriella experienced she has quadraplegic cerebral palsy and is fed via a tube into her intestines. Currently she is not able to roll, sit, crawl, stand or talk, but she smiles, laughs, has a great sense of humour, loves company and tries so hard to communicate and join in. She is a source of much joy, but we must do all we can to enable her to reach her potential. Increasing her access to specialised therapies and equipment, especially in the first few years of her life, will help her so much.
Our main goal is to take her to a number of intensive therapies hosted by the NAPA Institute in North America. Gabriella has privately-funded weekly physio sessions following these methodologies, which are helping her to improve her core strength, head and limb control. Experiencing this treatment over 3 weeks in an intensive setting should greatly help her to achieve independent movement, sitting and even standing. So far it has helped her learn to weight bear on her legs which is an amazing achievement for her. The NAPA Institute also offers speech and language therapy (VitaStim) that aims to strengthen swallowing, helping her to eat normally instead of being continuously tube-fed. This will be critical if she is ever to learn to talk. We would also like to invest more in physio involving a ‘therasuit’, which provides her with additional feedback about how her body is performing. The therasuit is incredible as it helps her hold her core stable so she can isolate and work on her neck and arm control, something she cannot do in normal conditions.
The NHS is supportive, but their resources are limited; specialist equipment for disabled children is often unsuitable for little ones. We are unable to source an appropriate chair for Gabriella due to local funding issues. As a result, she is becoming over-reliant on adults for support as she grows, rather than developing her own innate balance. Access to a properly-designed casual chair would enable Gabriella to enjoy playing and social interaction, leading to improved core strength, well-being and independence. Similarly, a suitable bath seat would help her to experience the delights of bathtime.
Gabriella is a delightful and determined girl who tries so hard in all she does. We would appreciate any support to help her to thrive and grab all that life has to offer.