Mum's drive to learn techniques that may help her little boy walk
The mother of a two-year-old boy who was no bigger than an adult hand when he was born has spoken of her hopes of helping her little boy sit up unaided and walk for the first time.
Luke Jones, who was born prematurely and weighed just 1lb 4.5oz, had to undergo heart surgery but survived. His twin brother Tyler sadly didn't.
However Luke, from Waringstown near Lurgan, was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
His mother Mandy now hopes to give him the "best chance in life" and raise enough money to be trained in a treatment that could help his development.
"His twin brother Tyler died three days after they were born, they were just 24 weeks old," she said.
"It was very, very hard, but Luke kept me going. I just had to concentrate on Luke," she said.
Mandy, who is appealing for the public to help her son, said she spotted something was wrong within months.
"When Luke was about six months old you generally expect them to be rolling over. I noticed when these milestones happened he wasn't developing the way other babies were. I could see in his wee face he wanted to move but his body wouldn't let him.
"Because he had been premature Luke had undergone a lot of brain scans, so nothing had been picked up. But I brought him to many check-ups and appointments saying that I noticed he had problems moving about and developing."
Luke was finally diagnosed with cerebral palsy in April 2013. It is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles. Among the symptoms is muscle stiffness, weakness and random and uncontrolled body movements.
"Nobody wants to hear those words, but I was finally glad to have him diagnosed," she added.
Despite attending regular clinics and physiotherapy sessions in Lurgan, Mandy believes a treatment called ABR - advanced biomechanical rehabilitation - could help, but it costs around £6,000 and isn't available through the NHS.
Learned by parents and carers, it is believed the ABR technique, which gives an individually tailored programme of movements, could help his muscles strengthen. The training programme takes place in Scotland next March and involves three sessions.
"I've looked up a lot of cases that seem to have helped," she said. "It is an assessement plan unique to your child and work on the muscles that are weak.
"I have to raise the funds, but I'm just determined. I think there is no price to a better quality of life."
Mandy is raising the money through the charity Tree Of Hope, which offers hope to the families of sick children in the UK who need specialist medical surgery.
She said: "I just want to give him the best chance to fulfil his potential. The ABR doesn't use drugs, surgery or forceful techniques. So I can learn the technique and it will hopefully strengthen his leg muscles.
"My hope is he will be able to walk. I just feel by sending him for this ABR will give the best chance for that to happen."
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/lukesdestination