Mum of two, Gina Wade spends all the time she can helping her daughter Sophie overcome the symptoms of spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Walking and moving is always difficult for Sophie because of her stiff, tight muscles, but the pony she loves so much eventually led her to trying a unique treatment that finally helped ease her symptoms...
Gina Wade is 41, married and lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. She looks after twins Sophie and Calum. Sophie was born with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Spastic quadriplegia is a condition that affects all four limbs. Gina explains, “The part of Sophie’s brain responsible for movement doesn’t send the correct message. This makes her muscles work incorrectly and as a consequence, they become tight and stiff when she tries to use them.”
“As a consequence, what can happen, is that Sophie’s bones may not grow properly, so we regularly undertake a full daily programme of physiotherapy and strengthening exercises, to keep them as loose as possible. And all the exercises are incorporated into her daily activities. She also uses an ijoy, which is a machine that simulates horse riding and a wobble board.
Sophie also suffers from dystonia which leaves her with weak muscles in her trunk, also making moving difficult. We’re currently working on trying to strengthen her trunk so the correct muscles are encouraged to be used properly.
When Sophie tries to walk, the muscles in her inner thighs become too tight and she crosses her legs, so we try to get this muscle to relax. We want her to walk so we’re trying to re-train her muscles. She also has her own pony and she goes for private PT lessons with someone who specialises in her condition.
Sophie also has some learning difficulties. She is very bright bubbly little girl, although she’s still learning basic level maths and phonics, such as learning how to read words like ‘cat’ and ‘dog’. However her social skills are excellent.”
Equine behaviourist, Dawn Rothwell had been helping Sophie’s pony by using a microcurrent device called The Alpha-Stim and because she knew it was also designed for humans, she brought along a special device for Sophie to try.
The Alpha-Stim is a portable cranial electrotherapy stimulation device that transmits tiny imperceptible microcurrents via ear-clips. Gina explains, “Sophie started using the device back in April twice a day. It didn’t seem to be having much effect so we increased the time to one hour in both morning and evening. Then we started to notice a difference. When Sophie tried to sit on her ijoy or pony her inner thighs used to be very tight, but the Alpha-Stim had reduced this tightness by a good 35-40%, which made it much easier for her to sit comfortably and assist her.
Gina continues, “Sophie has to do special arm exercises because her arm muscles are usually too tight, but they felt a lot looser too after using the Alpha-Stim. I believe that the Alpha-Stim is allowing the very tight muscles to relax, allowing the correct muscles to strengthen, so hopefully, over time, the other muscles will catch up.
Usually when we’re on holiday we try to do as much physio exercises as we can, but when you’re in a car or a chair there are not as many opportunities to exercise. When we come back from holiday both myself and her physiotherapist need to spend a good few weeks of intensive physio to get Sophie back to where she was before she left. But this year we did no physio exercises with her whilst on holiday, except for a bit of swimming, but used the Alpha-Stim, and her muscles were exactly the same as when she went away!”
The Alpha-Stim AID retails for £549 or is available on a buy-to-rent scheme from £51 a month. For more information please visit www.alpha-stim.co.uk or call 01487 208041.