A YOUNG girl who underwent a life-changing operation to allow her to walk faces more surgery in 2013, her family say.
Willow Emmison-Neal, nine, from Skipwith, between York and Selby, was born with a form of cerebral palsy which affects her legs.
Her family and friends raised £60,000 to send her to the US earlier this year for operations to reduce leg muscle stiffness by cutting some of the nerve fibres in the spinal cord, and lengthened the hamstrings.
Next month Willow is scheduled to have more surgery, this time in the UK, to lengthen her Achilles tendon, which will improve her walking ability further. But physiotherapy and other treatments are also essential to help Willow walk.
Her mother, Sally, said: “It’s going to be more of the same for 2013, but we’ve got a nice family Christmas season, seeing grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins.
“It feels like we’re at a real crossroads with it all. She’s doing fantastically well, but the NHS physiotherapy has been withdrawn.
“Physio is still crucial, equally if not more so than the operation, which will allow her walking action get better.
“She has practically no physio from the NHS but has private physio twice a week. It’s still coming from the fund at the moment, but that’s not going to go on for ever.”
Since her operations in February, Willow has gone on to dance, walk without a frame, and is even riding horses and swimming unassisted, for short periods.
But the family have urged anyone who can offer intensive physio or training sessions to contact them, to help Willow improve further.
Sally said: “We need someone who can really focus on weak muscle groups. In the summer, we went to Scotland for a sports trainer to give Willow some intensive training with her, two hours every day, for two weeks, but going up there is a bit of a trek so can happen once a year, if we’re lucky.
“If there was someone local who was prepared to give that a go, or thought it would fit in with the kind of service they offer, like a sports trainer for children, we’d love to hear from them.”
If you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with Willow’s family.