When Mags, our Occupational Therapist, went to screen the Grade R’s at a crèche in the KZN Midlands last year, she noticed a little 4 year old boy “running” around on his hands and knees in the playground. Working with the Singakwenza trainer, she assessed him and saw that he was an alert, articulate little boy, with Cerebral Palsy in both his legs. So began *Thulani’s journey (not his real name). After speaking to his teacher and his mum, Mags made a few phone calls and managed to arrange for Thulani to be assessed by one of Pietermaritzburg’s top orthopaedic surgeons, who donates his time to helping cases like Thulani’s. His verdict was that Thulani would benefit from an operation to his legs, to hopefully enable him to be able to walk. But first he would need to strengthen some of the muscles in his legs in preparation for the operation. Another few phone calls were made and a kind donor sponsored a walking frame for Thulani. He took to this like a duck to water and his grin stretched from ear to ear when he realised that he could move across the room on his feet.
Another phone call was made, this time to Kershni, a physiotherapist in private practice, who donated her time and expertise to teach Thulani’s mum how to stretch and strengthen his leg muscles. Mags also did some one-on-one therapy with him, which he loved!
In January this year, Thulani was admitted to Grey’s Hospital, the local government facility, and had both his feet and legs operated on. According to the surgeons, it was a great success, and he was an incredibly brave little boy! The journey after the operation has been a challenging and painful one for Thulani, as he spent 6 weeks in full leg casts and is now in metal callipers during the day, which are very uncomfortable. Yet more phone calls from Mags have resulted in him being fitted with soft night splinting, which he is very happy with.
Kershni, the physio, has been amazing and donates her time twice a week to doing rehabilitation physiotherapy with Thulani. As Thulani’s mum only has part-time employment, it was a challenge for her to bring Thulani to physio twice a week, so guess what! Mags made another call! Thanks to a generous farming family from the area where Thulani lives, the transport costs for Thulani and his mum have now been covered. His mum has been amazing through this process, and she has diligently done all the exercises that she has been taught to do at home with him. Without her commitment, this journey would never have been as successful as it has been, and her hope echoes ours – and that of all the donors who have assisted along the way – that he will eventually be able to walk on his own.