Mum’s praise for fundraisers

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The mother of a Sheffield girl undergoing physiotherapy after being diagnosed with a neurological condition has thanked fundraisers who helped raise money to build a £50,000 hydrotherapy pool.

In 2012, Gracie Brown was rushed to accident and emergency at Sheffield Children’s Hospital after her parents became concerned when she suddenly stopped walking.

She underwent a number of tests before an MRI scan revealed clouded white matter on the two-year-old’s brain.

Gracie, from Chapeltown, was diagnosed with leukodystrophy – a rare condition which affects the brain and the spinal cord.

The four-year-old has started a specialist rehabilitation regime with sessions in the hydrotherapy pool at Ryegate Children’s Centre in Broomhill.

It will help exercise the muscles which are not used on a day-to-day basis.

The equipment, designed to help children with mobility and neurological illnesses, was funded by money raised at The Children’s Hospital Charity Winter Ball in 2011.

Gracie’s mum Charlotte said: “Gracie was a normal, happy, healthy baby then all of a sudden she just stopped walking.

“We took her straight to A&E, and she was passed between a few different departments before she was sent to neurology. She underwent an MRI scan which revealed clouded white matter on the brain.

“That’s the main symptom of leukodystrophy. We were devastated.”

Gracie was referred to Ryegate Children’s Centre where she has undergone regular rehabilitation in the hydrotherapy pool.

The pool, which has replaced a 50-year-old facility, is being used by various hospital departments.

Charlotte said: “The facility is brilliant. Gracie really enjoys her sessions and the staff are amazing – they couldn’t be any better.”

Katie Ellis, physiotherapy assistant at the Children’s Hospital, said: “The pool helps exercise the core and lets patients move independently in the water, which is vital for Gracie and other patients who can’t move independently on land.

“The temperature of the water is between 34C and 35.5C, which helps relieve pain and stretch the muscles, and it’s not just about the physical benefit.”

She added: “All the family can get in, they can take pictures and create some real memories.”