Cerebral Palsy Children Experience the Thrill of the Pitch
Children with cerebral palsy will have the opportunity to compete on their own terms in a new regional football tournament, supported by Cerebral Palsy Sport, Stoke City FC Community Trust and the London Orthotic Consultancy. The tournament will take place on the 27th November 2016 at the Stoke City Academy Dome and is the result of years of voluntary input by Tony Liversage, who is the father of LOC’s lovely patient, eight-year-old Jude.
Jude was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged just eighteen months, and ever since then Tony has been determined to make sure that he can lead the most full and active life possible. A football fan himself, Tony came up with the idea of the regional tournament after setting up a local team for children with cerebral palsy following Jude’s own amazing progress after he had selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery at The Portland Hospital in 2015.
The cost of the surgery was funded by the generosity of family, friends and well-wishers who gave generously under the umbrella of UK charity Tree of Hope. Jude was then signposted to LOC’s paediatric orthotics team. Working with internationally respected physiotherapist Elaine Owen, we delivered a programme of orthotic care that has played a crucial role in enabling Jude to achieve his dream of playing football. Before his operation, Jude’s mobility was limited. But thanks to his surgical team and our follow up care, he was up on his feet within a week after the surgery.
Since Jude’s operation, Tony has worked on an entirely voluntary basis to set up and run Stafford Cerebral Palsy FC – even obtaining his FA Level 1 Coaching Badge to help train the 22 children on the team. Now, those children will be joined on the football pitch by three other regional cerebral palsy teams – aged 8 and under and 8 to 12, giving them the valuable opportunity to enjoy competitive football on their own terms.
Stoke City Community Trust has provided regular coaches for Stafford Cerebral Palsy FC free of charge, to help the children enjoy their football to the full. Carl Bennett, Inclusivity, Disability and Health Lead for the trust, told LOC: “We are very happy that our coaches are getting so involved in Stafford Cerebral Palsy FC’s regular training, and excited to see these activities progress to regional level. Stoke City Community Trust is committed to making sure that we support the wider community to ensure the inclusion and engagement of disabled children in our area.”
Tony’s efforts have also been supported by Chelsea Foundation, who recently welcomed Jude and his team to compete in a pan-disability tournament, which is run as part of the FA Regional Talent Centre for children with cerebral palsy.
During the tournament on the 27th November, Jude’s team will compete with three other regional teams: Cerebral Palsy United of Manchester, Newtown of Worcester and Chadderton Park of Oldham. Our team at London Orthotic Consultancy is playing its part by supporting orthotic treatment for other team members who undertake the same surgery journey as Jude.
Our own orthotist Alan Hews says: “It’s clear that, in the right patient, SDR surgery has beneficial results, but it is important for parents to understand the rehabilitation and physiotherapy that may be required after the operation. Not every post-SDR child will need orthotics, but some do. Jude is a fantastic example of how the right combination of surgery, physiotherapy and orthotic treatment can have a hugely significant impact. We hope that all the teams have a fantastic day on the 27th November and we are delighted to be involved in this activity.”
Jude’s father, Tony, told us: “SDR doesn’t cure cerebral palsy, but Jude certainly has much more stability now. The orthotics that LOC have made for him have helped him retrain his body and hopefully we will continue to see improvement. In my experience, the opportunity to be involved in sport is an important part of development for every child with cerebral palsy. That’s why we are committed to promoting cerebral palsy football on a regional as well as a local level.”
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