September 27, 2009

Playskill AGM with guest speaker, Dr Jo-Joy Wright

On Thursday 10th September, at the Playskill AGM, we had a very moving testimonial from one of the mothers of the current children in the group about how her son has been helped by Playskill (see below for her speech). The Clinical Psychologist, Dr Jo-Joy Wright, also gave a fantastic talk on self-esteem and physical disability (see below for Powerpoint slides) which was fabulous – a huge thanks to both of them.

Download the Powerpoint here
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Juliette Woolf and my 15 month old son, Rio, has been attending Playskill since January 2009.

Just to give you a brief background to Rio’s disability: he was born with an extremely rare (1 in a million) lower limb bone deformity – Tibial Aplasia (literally, “absence of tibia”) – so he had no tibia, no knee and no ankle joint.  This condition was not diagnosed ante-natally, so it was a huge shock to discover it at his birth – we had been told at the 20 week scan that he had unilateral talipes (club foot).  After a year of extensive research, consulting the leading Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeons around the world, we finally committed to go ahead with the traumatic and final operation that we had been told, when he was 5 days old, was the only way to give Rio a mobile life – a through-knee amputation (or disarticulation) – after which he would learn to walk with a prosthetic lower leg.  The surgery finally went ahead four weeks ago on 13th August – four months after was originally planned – it had to be postponed because of Rio’s recurrent chest infections, which is another ongoing medical issue for which Rio is undergoing tests.

But now back to Playskill and how Rio has progressed amazingly over the last 8 months, with the team’s help.  From a Physiotherapy perspective – when he started at Le Marie Centre at the age of 7 months, he was sitting, but not in a stable position.  He wasn’t able to bring his hands forward to the centre line to play, and the idea of him even holding a four-point kneeling position seemed light years away.  But with the never-ending patience, love and support of the Playskill team, Rio has been encouraged and motivated to achieve maximum mobility for his disability – he is now crawling faster than ever and is already trying to pull himself up!  And from an Occupational Therapy point of view, he’s even grown to tolerate messy play – which he used to hate(!) – he now loves sand pits and will touch the brightly-coloured pasta, and even tries to eat it!  We still have some progress to make with the jelly, but I’m sure that will come, with time!  He’s also now able to feed himself with his spoon and fork, and his fine motor skills have developed really well.  With regard to Speech and Language Therapy, Rio used to be very hesitant to touch the big mack switch for the “hello” and “goodbye” greeting, but he’s recently started to press the switch very decisively and even tries to press it when it’s not his turn!

The combined expertise of the Physio/Occupational and Speech Therapists at Playskill has helped Rio to become an incredibly happy, friendly and confident little boy, which is the perfect foundation for the next challenge – learning to walk with his prosthetic leg, which we hope to receive in the next month.  Andrea, Gillian, Debbie and all the team have given both Rio and me invaluable support – both practical and moral – through some very difficult and challenging times, and we can’t thank them enough.  I have no doubt that we would not be in the happy place we are now without Playskill.