Christmas is almost here, bringing with it the fun and sparkle that makes it such a magical time. But for one young girl this Christmas is going to be very different.
Earlier this year 12-year-old Rachel begun complaining of headaches. They came and went but no one thought it was anything serious.
Then, one day, Rachel had a particularly bad headache and suddenly collapsed at school.
Arriving at Accident and Emergency
Rachel was rushed to hospital. A scan revealed that she had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and needed emergency surgery, resulting in a serious brain injury.
Waking up in the hospitalRachel spent 23 days in a coma before waking up. At first she was completely unable to move but, within a few days, Rachel began to communicate, spelling out sentences using an alphabet board.
Over the next six months she improved but was still unable to walk and struggling to speak. It became clear she needed intensive specialist support.
Rehabilitation at The Children’s Trust
After arriving at The Children’s Trust she immediately began intensive rehabilitation. She is still in a wheelchair but can now stand and use a walker with support – recently she managed 14 steps!
She is relearning how to do everyday tasks again. She can now dress herself, her hand-writing is much clearer and she has begun using a specially-adapted bike.
Making rehab fun is what gets results
One aspect of Rachel’s time here which has made a big difference is Glitter Group – a singing club which gives the children a chance to sing and perform.
She has been working incredibly hard in her therapy sessions. By focusing on her breath control, Rachel can now sing choruses without needing to pause for breath and her ability to match pitches is improving all the time.
Glitter Group also encourages children to move with the music– sometimes they move along without even realising they are doing it!
It is also a chance for children to take part in a fun social activity.
Christmas is approaching and we are delighted that Rachel is heading home. Unfortunately many of the children here are not able to. Some live too far away and for others it is just too soon.
So we do everything we can to make to make their Christmas' magical. Organisisng Christmas meals, arranging parties and of course, making sure Santa comes to visit!
Donations from kind supporters help us to be able to run these activities, a gift of £20 could help pay for a child to attend a pantomime or help to buy a special present for them.
We hope you will make a special Christmas gift today, and help add a sparkle into Christmas for children.
Tommy came to The Children’s Trust after he fell 50ft from a hotel balcony onto concrete. He was only two and the accident left him unable to walk, talk or feed himself. This is the story of his remarkable recovery.
Tommy's story is told in his mum Tina's words:
“We were on holiday in a hotel in the Canary Islands. We were at the hotel and Tommy was having fun running between me and his Dad on the balcony. I went to get a nappy and heard my husband scream, “No!”
Tommy had turned right instead of left and ran over a low wall without a railing. He fell 50ft onto concrete.
A passing doctor saved his life. He was rushed to hospital where he was stabilised. He had no broken bones but he was in a coma.
Three days later he was flown to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. The doctors could not give a prognosis but they said he would never be the same child we took on holiday. We were told to expect the worst.
After two weeks in intensive care he finally woke up. I would tell him his favourite jokes and sing the songs he knew. But his body was lifeless.
Tommy's recovery was slow. He had damaged an area of his brain called the cerebellum. It meant he could not sit up, he was paralysed down one side of his body, he had no speech and had to be tube-fed. One month later he was transferred to The Children's Trust for rehabilitation.
I was terrified to hand my child over to the therapists. I told my husband we would stay one month. But when reality started to sink in, I realised it would be longer.
And my anger and hurt soon vanished when Milla (his key worker) sat me down and reassured me we were there for one purpose – to help my son. Finally it felt like I had someone I could talk to, someone who listened and understood.
Over the following weeks the transformation took place
I saw how the therapists adapted their techniques for my little boy. They saw him as I did, a 2 year old boy who just wanted to play. And play he did – drums, puppets, dinosaurs, castles, gardening, window washing. The list was endless.
And I saw how they did this for each child. There is no magic formula that works for every brain injury. Every case is different. They worked day and night, coming up with ideas that worked.
Slowly Tommy learnt to sit up, then to crawl and, before we left six months later, Tommy had walked six steps. He is also talking again and feeding normally.
Obviously Tommy still has problems, but without the foundation to his recovery he received in those crucial first six months after injury we would not be where we are now.
The therapists at the Trust challenged him and pushed him beyond his limits. They also taught me and my husband how to do the same. You just assume that he cannot do anything because of his injury. But the therapists never looked at it that way – they focussed on Tommy and what he could achieve. I think he is thriving because of this and I am a better parent because of what I learnt from Milla and the people at the Trust.”
Tommy's accident changed his life and those of all the people around him.
Fortunately Tommy was able to come to The Children’s Trust and receive specialist rehabilitation treatment. As a result it has given him the best chance possible.
But 40,000 children in the UK get a brain injury each year. One every 15 minutes. We want to give the same kind of opportunities that Tommy had to every one of them.
Please help children with severe brain injuries like Tommy.