Emma Clark is a determined and intelligent 12-year-old from Newark in Nottingham who has a wicked sense of humour, yet because she has a type of Cerebral Palsy caused by a tiny part of her brain being damaged at birth which affects control of her muscle tone, she is unable to talk, walk, sit properly or stand. However, a specialist motorised walking device, would help improve her muscle strength, posture and overall health.
Out of more than 600 muscles in the body, Emma now has control of a small number of them. Her muscle tone varies, being either very tight and rigid, or loose and floppy – and this can change minute by minute, muscle by muscle. She has made good progress and is now able to sit unaided for between 20 and 30 seconds and bear some weight though her legs, but is now at the stage where she needs to correct her posture and develop her leg muscles and core strength if she is to progress.
Specialist walking equipment may help, but this costs in excess of £11,000 and as there is still £8,210 to be raised, Emma’s parents Mandy and Darren turned to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
Newlife is now calling on local heroes to come forward to help raise the funds needed to help Emma.
Mum Mandy said: “She is awesome. She is a very happy and cheeky girl. Although Emma doesn’t use words, she gets her point across and independently makes choices by lifting her hand. We know what she means and she likes to be a bit mischievous and play jokes on us. There’s nothing wrong with Emma mentally, it’s just that her body doesn’t work properly. I know how determined she is and she likes to push herself.
“When Emma was born her leg muscles were so tight her feet were crossed so her hip joints didn’t develop properly. Surgery fixed the left hip socket, but when they did the same operation on the right side, they put her in a Y-shaped cast to recover. Unfortunately her leg muscles got confused and pulled her left leg over permanently, which drags the right side over – but the walking equipment would help correct this. Her legs would be strapped in and it makes a walking movement while remaining static, but as well as correcting her posture it would strengthen her muscles and create muscle memory.
“For the first five years of her life Emma had undiagnosed kidney damage and one kidney was eventually removed. After this she began to develop and gained some weight and some control of her arms and legs. We were finally referred to a neurologist who put her on medication to balance and control her muscle tone and she began to develop even more control.
“When Emma’s not well, we have to just concentrate on taking care of her, but when she is in top form we help with her progress and development. She sees a chiropractic neurologist who stimulates the nerves in her digestive system as these are compromised by not being upright. He also stimulates the nerves in her mouth and she is becoming more vocal each day. Horse riding also helps to develop her leg muscles and get the right messages going to her brain. We try to do everything we possibly can to help her develop and she is slowly changing.
“We have been told she is suitable for a brain operation when she is older, which would stimulate the damaged area of her brain and improve her function, but she needs to be bigger and stronger for this.”
“Emma has trialled the walking machine and it improved her digestion straight away. She was able to walk one kilometre in it, her posture began to improve and with time it will straighten her legs. It’s the perfect piece of equipment for her – the only problem is the cost of it.”
If you would like to help Emma, visit www.newlifecharity.co.uk/Nottinghamshire, read her story and click the ‘Donate Now’ button. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money donated to help Emma will be used to fund the special walking equipment. Any surplus funding will help provide equipment for other disabled children in the county as Emma’s is one of 19 families in Nottinghamshire with equipment needs of £15,979 currently working with the charity.
For full details of Newlife Foundation’s range of practical support for disabled and terminally ill children and their families, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) – or go to: https://newlifecharity.co.uk.
Pictured: Emma Clark
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