Peter is an 8 year old boy who was growing up happy and well until the age of 5, when he contracted malaria and became severely unwell. Since this illness he has been unable to talk, sit independently, feed himself or perform most basic activities at home. He was now unable to go to school and was having seizures daily.
He was brought to us for assessment in June 2015, after visiting a nearby children’s clinic that also started him on anti-epilepsy medication to control his seizures. When he arrived he was able to stand with support, but couldn’t walk, I had to use my feet to step with his, and support him while he was sitting. He had little interest and interaction with anything or anyone around him. After his assessment our goal setting was to work on independent sitting and encouraging interest in objects with a long-term view to feeding himself again.
The following week he returned with his parents, and was able to walk on his own, with just support for balance and guidance. We worked on sitting balance on the floor and on a therapy ball, and in a standing frame that was donated by PhysioNet where we were also encouraged exploration of different objects with his hands.
Peter continued coming to KCDC twice a week for the next 6 weeks for intensive therapy and each week he demonstrated improvements. His interest in toys has grown, he likes banging the drum, bouncing on the ball and putting objects into a cup, or stacking toys. We have introduced the picture exchange communication system to encourage communication and making choices. He has started feeding himself and enjoys chasing a football in the garden.
One of most significant changes has been with his parents however. They first came with little hope or expectation, resigned to the fact that they would always have to feed and care for their son, now they interact with him, laugh with him and play ball with him. Peter continues to attend KCDC weekly to further develop his skills but there is hope for him now that he can be part of his family and community again.
There are many children that we see each week with stories similar to these, often the diagnosis is different but the outcomes are the same: A loss of movement, a loss of independence, reliance on family and inability to interact with family and friends.
Our goals are often similar, educate the family on the causes of disability – that it is not witchcraft, the devil, contagious, or a curse, and to reinstate hope and a belief that the child can improve with intervention.
We look to improve on their mobility skills such as sitting and walking, personal skills such as bathing, feeding, toileting, and interacting with family and friends.