Belfast Telegraph

Brave Oliver standing tall with little brother Max for first time

By Amanda Ferguson

Boy wonder Oliver Dickey is tearing round home town Coleraine on his walking frame just weeks after undergoing surgery in the US that has transformed his life.

The inspiring five-year-old, who was diagnosed with the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy at just 18 months, now abandons his wheelchair at every opportunity, after the people of Northern Ireland raised £110,000 for the selective dorsal rhizotmy (SDR) op and his aftercare treatment.

Last month Oliver was recovering in a US hospital following an operation to help him walk for the first time and now doctors expect he will be able to stand independently and walk unaided within six months.

His mother Charlene said: "It's like night and day. I can't believe the difference.

"He's doing great, walking with a frame at home and in shops in the town.

"We take the wheelchair with us to give him a rest. He has never been able to walk any great distance with the frame, and he was always on his tip-toes.

"Now his feet are flat to the floor walking with the frame. His confidence is growing, he is going a wee bit too fast!

"Every day he is a wee bit stronger and goes further." Charlene, her husband Neil and the wider family are overwhelmed when they see Oliver perform simple actions he previously could not manage.

"It's amazing," Charlene said.

"After the second surgery, at the airport his brother Max was hugging him and we realised it was the first time he was able to do that with him standing up.

"It dawned on us it was the first picture of them side by side.

"The wee simple things take your breath away."

Oliver is taking part in intensive physiotherapy treatment and will soon be off to Cardiff for a strength training programme.

"He has physio, we do stretches for a couple of hours a day and activities to build his muscle," Charlene said. "We are starting him back swimming this week and next is horse riding. The doctors think there will be some form of independently standing in six months.

"He's doing it for a couple of seconds at the moment. We can't thank everyone enough. We wouldn't be here without the help of the Northern Ireland public."


Oliver Dickey (5) from Coleraine was diagnosed with the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy at the age of 18 months. He is the first Northern Ireland child to undergo a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotmy (SDR) at the St Louis Children's Hospital in the US to enable him to walk. Two other children from Northern Ireland have undergone a similar procedure.

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