Brooke shows grit to get home early

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CARNOUSTIE girl Brooke Ramsay will this morning (Friday) be waking up in her own bed for the first time since leaving for her life-changing operation in Bristol.

Brooke (8) travelled to the Frenchay Hospital to undergo a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) to remove spasticity that was preventing her from having full use of her legs.

Not only has the operation been a success, as was shown in the Guide & Gazette last week, but Brooke was cleared to come home a day earlier than expected and at the time of going to press she was already en route to Carnoustie.

Specialist neurosurgeon Mr Kristian Aquilina operated on July 10, and after a brief rest Brooke was straight into intense physiotherapy to capitalise on the procedure.

According to her dad, Stewart, the results have been beyond what they expected. He said: “Absolutely! It’s definitely above our expectations, not only above our own, but those of the physiotherapy team.

“She was doing the sorts of things in her first week that they did not expect to see. Brooke had a lot of strength anyway and when they removed the spasticity from her legs it was just a matter of working and building on that.”

A lot of pressure has been taken off her parents, Stewart and Laura, with the success of this operation.

Stewart explained: “The SDR, that was the worrying thing from our point of view.

“If that had gone wrong I don’t know where we would have gone from there. It’s a huge burden that has been lifted from both of us because it was so successful.

“The hard work is now for Brooke to do. It’s actually for her to put the effort in.

“Her physios Helen, Janet and Karen have taken a further burden off us. They’re there to take a lot of the burden off us and to give us the confidence and to keep us focussed by letting us know we are doing the right thing.”

Brooke has completed two physiotherapy sessions every day during her recovery and she has progressed at a steady pace ever since.

Stewart explained: “Brooke started off in the chair then moved to a Zimmer frame and progressed to a Kaye Walker which has no wheels and which doesn’t run away with her like a Zimmer frame.

“At the moment she is coping with a Kaye Walker perfectly well and can go anywhere she wants with that.

“The next step is the sticks, but whether she has enough strength to come home with the sticks is not certain.

“Brooke will probably come home with the Kaye Walker and she is more than capable of getting around with that. Hopefully she’ll then progress to crutches very quickly.”

On Wednesday afternoon Stewart confirmed that Brooke’s physiotherapists had recommended she continue to use the Kaye Walker.

Stewart said: “The latest is that she will need a Kaye Walker for when she comes home initially, as she is just not quite strong enough for crutches full time yet.

“That said, when she progresses, she will not actually be going on crutches, as although walking with them helps her balance, she tends to lean a little too far forward and so it’s not so great for her posture.

“So, she is going to progress on to something similar to ski poles which are a bit taller and will encourage her to walk taller without a stoop.”

Being away from home has taken a toll emotionally, as not all the family made the trip.

Brooke’s twin sister, Amy, managed a flying visit, but her little brother, Ben, has remained at home in the care of his grandparents.

Stewart said: “Definitely it’s hard. It’s not so bad for me because I was home last week for four days. It’s tough for Laura not seeing Ben.

“We’ve been through it before but albeit not for this length of time. We knew what to expect and we are doing fine, but we are looking forward to getting home.”

True to form, Brooke has soldiered on and according to Stewart her parents have glimpsed the deep levels of resolve their little girl has.

He said: “Working with the crutches is quite hard work and she did it in both physio sessions today (Tuesday) where she was going up and down stairs with them for the first time.

“It’s never giving up with her, even when she’s tired she’s got a huge amount of determination.

“We knew that she was stubborn, but we had no idea how strong the determination was in her. We have never seen that until now.”