Isabelle's Story

Isabelle attended Brainwave’s South East Centre for the first time with her parents when she was 4 years old (in October 2009).  When Isabelle was ten weeks old she contracted a cough and cold, which continued to worsen.   She was treated with antibiotics but had stopped breathing for 22 minutes and suffered a lack of oxygen to her brain due to a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).   At one year old, she was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and global developmental delay.  Until Isabelle was 2 years old she was unresponsive both physically and cognitively.

In 2009 I researched the internet for help. I felt that although the NHS physiotherapy was wonderful, I wasn’t getting enough support and understanding of how to deal with Isabelle’s condition. I came across the Brainwave website, after reading the testimonials it gave me so much hope I contacted Brainwave straight away and an assessment was booked.

Diane (Isabelle's Mother)


Isabelle’s condition caused delay in all areas of Isabelle’s life, she had difficulties with speech, fine motor skills (including writing), gross motor skills (mobility and transfers) and personal care (feeding, dressing, toileting etc).

During her first visit to Brainwave for an initial assessment, Isabelle could crawl and walk with assistance and had some head control.  She did not have a hand dominance although her left side appeared stronger and her right side appeared more precise.  Isabelle has hypermobility in her finger joints which makes them very weak and flexible.  Isabelle was able to use a spoon at meal times but was quite messy.  She was unable to rotate her hand to face upwards, both of these difficulties affected her pencil skills, she was able to hold a pencil in fixed tripod grip.  It was noted that Isabelle was unable to cross midline, instead she would pass objects from one hand to the other and she was able to indicate when she needed the toilet.  At the end of her initial assessment, aims were agreed for Isabelle which included strengthening of her shoulder girdle, improving her balance and strengthening of her hands.  A home based program was completed and her parents followed the activities and the handling techniques taught during that programme at home.

 

Isabelle attends Brainwave regularly, once every 4 to 6 months for assessment and has shown consistent progress in all areas of development.

 

During the next couple of reassessments improvement was noted with her confidence, this along with strengthening her core and shoulders had increased her independence further, she was able to stand without support and had begun independent walking, climbing and descending the stairs and jumping, amazing progress. We were astounded by the progress Isabelle had made with each programme and Isabelle has gone from strength to strength with each milestone she has achieved.  As a family they are able to do so much more together ie all the family going out on bike rides, Isabelle independently climbs the steps to the slide at the local park and can climb the apparatus, playing independently with friends without the aid of a walker and cooking together is so much fun.  Isabelle is able to go up and down the stairs at home, allowing her to access her bedroom, the bathroom and the top floor of the house.  She is able to independently go to the toilet, dress herself, communicate with confidence and her schooling has also improved with regards to her fine motor skills.  During the appointments it was also noted that Isabelle was becoming more independent including dressing and undressing, however the more precise motor skills were difficult (zips, buttons & laces). She had developed a left handed dominance, which could prepare her for a programme to develop her fine motor skills and mark making.

 

Isabelle continued to make great progress with her gross and fine motor skills over the next few reassessments.  Her sitting posture greatly improved which enabled her to maintain an upright back whilst completing fine motor tasks at the table.  Isabelle’s balance also greatly improved which enabled her to mobilise without a walker and cross over obstacles without losing her balance. She was also able to change directions while walking and turn around with control and less effort.  At 7 years and 1 month Isabelle had grown in self-confidence and was able to inform the therapists when exercises were more challenging, although she still aimed to complete the task.

 

In the past couple of years Isabelle has experienced some medical difficulties which has challenged her progress.  Isabelle was diagnosed with Epilepsy in 2015.  Mum feels the seizures have impacted on Isabelle’s development as she is less balanced and co-ordinated and she also feels that the medication is causing Isabelle fatigue.  A shorter programme which worked on developing Isabelle’s walking, hand function, core stability and body awareness was requested and this was adapted for Isabelle’s changing needs.

 

During her most recent review’s Isabelle appeared to have made good progress; she was walking independently indoors and outdoors and ascending and descending the stairs.  Her gait had improved and she used a normal base of support whilst walking. Her handwriting continued to improve; it is now smaller and she uses appropriate pressure.  Isabelle also feeds herself using a knife and fork, sometimes needing help to cut meat.  She is also able to drink from an open cup, sports bottle and through a straw.

 

The aims of the current programme include improving her balance and co-ordination whilst standing and walking (by strengthening her core and trunk control) and to improve her fine motor control (by increasing her proximal stability at her shoulders).

 

Isabelle is a charming young lady and it’s been a lovely experience to work with her, all therapists have commented on her determination and happy nature.  Her parents have worked hard with her all through these years and have followed the activities and suggestions provided by the therapists appropriately.  All this joint effort will continue to work for Isabelle’s future progress.

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