We first met Gabriel in July 2015 when he was 2 years and 2 months old. He is the only child of Leon and Lucy-Kate. Gabriel has a diagnosis of diplegic cerebral palsy, which means that his legs are more affected than his arms.  He was born prematurely and had required resuscitation at birth. He was in intensive care for a few days before rapidly improving. Gabriel also suffered with seizures early on which, at present, appear to be well controlled by medication.  Leon and Lucy-Kate came to Brainwave to seek additional support to challenge Gabriel to achieve his maximum potential.

When we saw Gabriel at his initial assessment in 2015 he was upset most of the time, especially during handling or positioning.  He was not easily motivated.  Being upset just tightened up his arms and legs making movement more difficult.  His mobility on the floor was also limited.  He was not able to sit up from lying and even rolling onto his tummy was difficult without support.  He was unable to assume a crawling position and was usually just sat with his legs straight out when placed.  He couldn’t pivot or shuffle on his bottom to move. He was reliant on adult support in most positions and transitions.   

His physiotherapists at Brainwave designed a Therapy Programme for his parents to do with him at home.  The aims were about helping him to improve his body awareness, strengthen his core, improve his ability to maintain sitting and standing, encourage mobility on the floor and improve his self-help skills.  Some calming strategies were also included.

After just 7 months of Leon and Lucy-Kate doing the Brainwave Programme regularly with Gabriel, their hard work has paid off.  When the family returned for their first reassessment, Gabriel had made some excellent progress.  He was generally much happier to be handled and more engaged in his exercises; he was physically stronger and showed greater control of his movements.  He could roll independently in both directions which, during that time, became his main method of mobility across the floor. He could also travel short distances by commando crawling with some support.  He could pull himself to sitting from the floor when holding onto an adult’s finger/hand. He was able to comfortably sit cross-legged and side-sit independently when placed.  He also started to try to move through different sitting positions by himself and could sit on a bench independently with close supervision. He could maintain four-point kneeling with minimal support.  He could take his full weight when standing at furniture and was beginning to practice cruising.  Gabriel also started using a pair of Piedro boots with insoles which helped with his stability and correcting the over-pronation of his feet.  Leon and Lucy-Kate also reported that in terms of his cognition, Gabriel also progressed by being able to communicate his wants and needs to those around him a lot more.  His physiotherapists, at this time, updated his Brainwave Programme based on the progress that he had made.

When they came back in August 2016, 6 months after their first reassessment.  Gabriel again had made excellent progress.  This time, Gabriel’s commando crawling was much better though with very minimal support and was able to sit up from lying on his back.  Once in a sitting position, Gabriel was much more dynamic on the floor; he could pivot in both directions and changed between a variety of sitting positions.  His tolerance of kneeling had also improved.  During four-point kneeling Gabriel demonstrated improved upper body strength.  Gabriel could also pull himself from side sitting into high kneeling at a bench with minimal guidance.  When placed in good alignment Gabriel was able to pull to stand from sitting on a bench up to a surface independently.  Gabriel’s physiotherapists modified the programme based on the progress he has made.

In February 2017 again 6 months after his last assessment, unsurprisingly Gabriel has once again made some lovely progress.  From side sitting Gabriel has started to move independently into four point kneeling and with light support under his trunk and assistance to move his legs Gabriel could be facilitated to crawl on his hands and knees over short distances.  Gabriel is also now able to sit up from lying on his back giving him much greater independence.  Gabriel is now also able to transfer off the sofa with close supervision though he still needs more support when transferring off a bench.  When placed correctly in side-sitting Gabriel can pull himself into high kneeling at furniture. It is now much easier to support Gabriel into half high kneeling although he continues to need support.  He will attempt to pull into standing from high kneeling dissociating his legs initially before using both legs together.  His stepping with support has improved and Gabriel has greater stepping accuracy with his left leg than the right.

Gabriel has received 7 certificates to date, the highest number of certificates a child following a Brainwave programme has ever received in less than 2 years.  These were for achieving the following skills:

·         Rolling independently

·         Building a tower of three blocks

·         Pivoting on his bottom on the floor

·         Being fully toilet trained

·         Sitting up independently

·         Moving into four-point kneeling independently

·         Improved stepping

The progress that Gabriel has made, in less than 2 years, is amazing.  It is a testament to the hard work and time that he and his family have invested.  We believe that we will continue to see significant improvements with Gabriel in the future as he develops his skills both physically and cognitively while following a Brainwave Programme.

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