A Glengormley mother mentioned about the treatment that gives her daughter more freedom.
Aoibheann O’Connor, who will be eight next week, gave birth as early as 28 weeks and developed hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy due to brain hemorrhage shortly after birth.
Previously she never sat or walked without help as a baby, but now, thanks to the treatment she has undergone over the past five years, Aoibheann’s quality of life has improved significantly.
Speaking to Belfast Live, his mother Aisling, 39, said the positive changes over the past few years have been “surprising.”
He added: “At first, I thought it was all about the ability to walk and that was the goal, but now I realize that’s not really the goal – that’s really the quality of life Aoibheann has.
“Before, he couldn’t look over his shoulder, he had to move his whole body then reduce him to balance. Now he looks around, and calls who’s behind him. All these little things you realize it’s about everything.
“The quality of his body has improved over the past five years, nor did we realize it was as bad.”
Five years ago, Aisling and husband Ethan raised enough money to start an alternative therapy called APR (Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation) in Scotland.
The therapy, developed in 2000, is a unique rehabilitative approach for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy and other brain injuries that cause structural correction of musculoskeletal deformities.
A year ago, for the first time, Aoibheann began singing along to her favorite film, Beauty and the Beast, which was a sign of how far she has come since ABR treatment began at the age of three.
“He hadn’t sung before,” said mum-of-three Aisling.
“We talked to the ones from ABR and they said because of the work you do around his chest, it improves the quality of the muscle around the ribs, so he further expands his lung capacity to get the air needed to sing.
“Before treatment he used to speak but would start to trail as he got to the end. It was like ‘has he lost his breath?’ – the words kind of lost.
“She loves Beauty and the Beast more than anything in the world, and now that she sings it at the top of her voice, you can hear her on the other side of the house. You just assume this is what it’s all about.
“Aoibheann also loves art – she told everyone she was an artist and everyone was excited about it on her birthday.”
Today, the family continues their fundraising so Aoibheann can continue her treatment, which costs around £ 5,500 per year.
Aisling added that it was “intensive” and designed to be a “lifelong commitment.”
The 39-year-old continued: “Her dad and my sister do two hours of therapy with her five days a week. She comes home from school, then it goes from 4 to 6. It’s not like a physio, he can just lie down and watch cartoons while they do it to him which means it’s more relaxing than the physio. You don’t make him suffer with exercises he can’t do. “
Aisling hopes to raise awareness of ABR therapy, as she says it was a treatment they “stumbled upon” but it has made a difference in Aoibheann’s life.
He said: “I’m looking for another treatment that I haven’t done him a physio. It’s cruel. I found ABR and if another family can find it, it’s fine, because it makes a difference to children. Life.”
So far, the family has raised £ 39,000 over the years thanks to support from the local community, but they are hoping for further support to continue Aoibheann’s treatment.
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