Cerebral palsy is classified as a neurological disorder caused by damage during the process of brain development of a child. Most signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. It primarily affects movement and muscle coordination. It hinders balance, posture, reflexes, muscle tone, and in some cases, oral motor ability. Cerebral palsy often leads to muscle stiffness, which in turn causes a reduced range of movement ability. The symptoms vary in a broad spectrum in terms of movement, intellectual capacity and co-morbidity.
The First-Step team treated many children with Cerebral Palsy and obtained amazing results. Read below the story of Lias, Mila and Emma.
Lias was born in 2011, in Dietlikon Switzerland. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy and low muscle tone. With the support of the KMSK association, Lias’ family started the First-Step therapeutic process in Switzerland and later went to Tel Aviv.
After the intensive therapeutic process, Lias has been able to sit and hold himself. He has been more present and responsive, and he can play functional games. During the process, his parents were supported by the First-Step team. With the knowledge, training, tools they received they contributed enormously to Lias’ development.
“We are very happy that we started with First-Step. Lias did a lot of progress since then. We got perfect instructions from the therapists on how to do the exercises with him at home. This helps a lot to achieve further improvements and to strengthen his muscles. And the best is, Lias loves to do these exercises!” – Conny – Lias’ mother
Mila’s parents Anne-Claire and Nelson Tiago Ferreira Fernandes tell Mila’s story and their First-Step therapy experience:
“Mila was born on 1 July 2013 after a so-called normal pregnancy and by vaginal delivery with an epidural. At birth, all seemed normal, except for a lower head circumference of one centimetre the average. Her Apgar score was 9– 9– 10. It was thus during her first two months of life. Head circumference has continued to evolve as a smooth curve always slightly below average. Except for intense and long cries, there was no major sign of other problems.
Nevertheless, during the third month of life, signs began to appear. Mila’s lower and upper limbs became hypertonic, and her trunk became hypotonic. We were then referred to medical specialists and therapists to find out about the problem. It appeared that Mila suffered from Cerebral Palsy during pregnancy that caused severe damage to both hemispheres of her brain. A slight epileptic activity also seemed to result. We were suggested some palliative treatments and to continue physiotherapy, which Mila has started at the age of six months, to prevent members become stiff. Benzodiazepine was prescribed to create muscle relaxation and reduce myoclonic bursts. Given the many side effects of this drug, and the fact that we want our daughter to awaken to life rather than being put to sleep by a drug, we opted not to use this medication.
In the meantime, we heard about the First-Step Method from a friend who had herself a friend who used this therapy for her daughters. Thanks to the extremely fast and effective intervention by the AEMO (Association for Children& Rare Diseases) we met Mr Shai Silberbusch in November 2014 at HUG Geneva Hospital for an assessment. The first thing that interested us with this method is that instead of focusing on what has become impossible, all efforts are channelled on what can still be made and improved.
The First-Step therapy began on February 8th, 2015 in Tel Aviv, Israel. There Mila met a team of professionals attentive and focused solely on the development of her potential. Thanks to intensive work, focused on exercises with Mila and training so that we parents can continue the work at home, real improvements could be visible in just three weeks. Indeed, Mila, who was hypertonic from the lower and upper limbs, and hypotonic from the trunk, has now much more relaxed limbs and begins to improve her trunk tonus.
Mila has better eye contact and seems more attentive to her environment. She can now stay and even sleep on her belly. She straightens her head better, and her posture and balance are visibly improving. Mila also passes better nights and agrees to be addressed and taken by other people than her mom or her dad. Finally, during the stay, once put in a favourable situation, Mila almost completely straightened on her knees leaning on her hands. This is not an exhaustive list of perceived improvements after the start of therapy. Nevertheless, we are aware that we are only at the beginning of a process that will require much time, effort and perseverance, to give Mila every chance of optimal development with the land that is hers.
With the help of AEMO and First-Step Method, we are ready to reach them. We would like to thank everyone involved for their commitment, professionalism and empathy.”
Emma was born with Cerebral Palsy. First-Step team met Emma when she was three years old. She hardly used her arms and legs. A couple of months later in the therapeutic process, she was already able – for the first time – to crawl forward on her tummy, to roll over from her back to her tummy, and from the tummy to her back. Today, she is using her arms and legs much more. She feeds herself and holds a toy or a pencil.
“First-Step was able to give us the support, tools and knowledge that we needed to get Emma over a huge jump in her development. Just about a year ago, Emma had little head control and stability in her trunk and we had to do everything for her. She is now rolling over, can commander-crawl, and is using her hands with much more precision. She is learning her independence which is changing her and our lives” – Maggie and Guillaume Goudy, Emma’s parents.
First-Step therapy treated many children with WHS and helped them to reach their potential. Below you can read experiences of some with WHS.