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An inspiring story of a 6-year-old Sydney girl with cerebral palsy, beating all odds to take her first independent steps is inspiring thousands of people to look at life differently.
Isabella has spastic diplegia which means she would need a wheelchair, walking frame or someone’s assistance to move around. As she is taking her first baby steps, she says, “It’s a bit scary and exciting at the same time.” Isabella adds, “Soon I want to walk all by myself without Mumma even touching.”
In December 2016, her parents took her to the United States for a controversial operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), where a surgeon cut parts of the abnormal nerves connecting muscles to the spinal cord, and by cutting those signals the muscles can relax. Because of this grueling operation, it took her 3 months to recover, after that she started her physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions to reprogram her muscles’ movement patterns and build strength.
Isabella was walking with the help of canes in December 2017, aged five, also riding a modified bicycle, and running in her walker. But in 2018, Isabella underwent stem cell treatment in Mexico, intensive physical therapy in Texas and more physical therapy in Sydney, as a result of which she can stand, take 55 steps independently in a pool, take two steps independently on solid ground and take several steps on solid ground with some help.
Isabella reached another milestone in 2018 by starting school. Karen Rose, her kindergarten teacher said, “What’s really special about Isabella is the fact that she really keeps working at something, she doesn’t give up, she never grumbles and she just keeps going.”
Isabella’s family plan to pay it back by releasing a documentary about Isabella’s journey, start a foundation and also want to modify donated bicycles to give away to other children with cerebral palsy through social media competitions.
Mr Lombardo said, “Unfortunately special needs bikes are extremely expensive for a special needs family because we already have enough costs as it is and those bikes can cost in excess of $2,000 each.”
They are planning to donate 20 bikes to special needs children around the world, which they will design them to be suitable for kids with cerebral palsy.