herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

Walking back to happiness... how Botox jabs have put little Andrew back on his feet

THIS brave young boy is recovering at home after receiving Botox injections for a crippling condition of his feet.

Andrew Heffernan is currently being treated in Temple Street Children's Hospital for diplegia, a mild form of cerebral palsy.

Alongside physiotherapy, doctors decided to introduce a specialised treatment to relax the muscles. Under anaesthetic, Andrew was injected with Botox into his feet, which has made it easier for him to walk.

This radical treatment, usually reserved for aging celebrities, is making a huge difference to the lives of Irish children with this condition.

His mum Jackie Heffernan said that when he was younger, Andrew used to fall over a lot.

"He was constantly up on his toes," she explained."We had the same procedure done two years ago but because he has grown so much he has to get them done again."

And his dad Dave explained: "We're basically playing catch up because the muscles and the bones aren't developing at the same rate -- and this is a way of keeping his feet on the ground."

Mr Heffernan added that the Botox is injected to release the pull on the muscles.

Medical staff featured in a TV3 documentary about the children's hospital said that it's not a guaranteed solution, but it is worth a try.

"In some cases the Botox might work very well. It might work three months, it might work six months it varies from child to child, that's why they're reassessed," said staff nurse Denise Traynor.

Just over two years ago, Nicole Cahill (10) from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, who suffered inflammation of the brain and was diagnosed with spastic quadraparesis, travelled to the US for six months for an intensive Botox treatment course, defying doctors who had said she would never walk again.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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