Belfast Telegraph

Desperate parents seek new options for children with cerebral palsy

By Victoria O'Hara

Luke is one of around 60 children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in Northern Ireland every year.

It is the most common cause of physical disability in children and affects about one child in every 500.

Like Luke, they would be supported at child development clinics to have physiotherapy sessions run by the five health trusts and also have visits by an occupational therapist.

All of the trusts, together with the Department of Health, are doing all they can to fund care in incredibly tough financial times.

Many people find that they are having to wait months for specially adapted equipment, or feel treatment is not specialised enough for the individual child.

Parents' desperation to give their child the best opportunity has left some feeling there is no option but to try and raise money for private alternatives.

This has been the case whether it is cerebral palsy, accessing cancer drugs or even epilepsy. We reported how the parents of Ellsa Alexander-Adams, who suffers up to 15 seizures in a day, are raising money to send her to America for more tailored treatment.

The couple from Bangor have praised the treatment from consultants at the Royal Victoria Hospital, but believe US specialists in Boston would be quicker, and also help prevent any further damage to her health.

They have set a huge target of raising $250,000 but through social media have captured the support of the public - action many are taking. As the purse-strings of the health service tighten, and waiting lists for appointments with specialists and consultants become longer, cases like Luke and Ellsa will become more and more common.

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