FOR little Corin Potts, 2013 was a big year. Not only did the five-year-old start big school, see his mum and dad tie the knot and go to Disneyland Paris, Corin has started to learn to walk.
The Yate youngster, who was born with cerebral palsy and little chance of ever walking alone, underwent a life-changing operation which saw surgeons cut 75 per cent of his nerves at the base of his spine in December 2012.
Funded by the Yate community following the Corin’s First Steps campaign led by his parents James and Faye, the selective dorsal rhyzitomy operation has already helped Corin sit better, relax his legs and start to build up muscles.
Although his dad James, 32, admits they don’t know if he will ever walk completely unaided, they at least have a chance.
“He went for four years of not using his muscles and the only thing holding him back now is his strength,” said James, who works for Royal Mail. “The doctors can’t say when or if he is likely to walk because the operation is relatively new over here and each child who has it is different but even if he only has a five per cent chance now, it is more than he had before.”
Corin, now a full-time pupil at Raysfield Infants School in Chipping Sodbury, has made some big advances since his operation.
Mum Faye, 27, said: “He has two check-ups since and has progressed at each. He hardly uses his wheelchair at all now and uses his frame all day. He practises using sticks once a day but it is tiring for him.
“At school he mixes with the other children and does what he wants to do. We were really lucky with the timing of the operation as it came before he started school and the intensive physiotherapy afterwards didn’t interfere with his learning.”
Corin still has several physiotherapy sessions a week as well as swimming and horseriding lessons.
“It appears from the operation that he had an awful lot of tone in his legs and although they cut 75 per cent, some is creeping back in to his right leg,” added Faye. “He is going to have some botox to relax the muscles and is going on a week of intensive physiotherapy in Scotland in May.
“We realise he will have to take a step backwards to take a step forwards.
“He has built up a confidence in his frame but this year our aim is to get him using his sticks more and dwindle out using the frame.”
James said it was a difficult juggling act of making sure Corin keeps up with other children at school and continues using his walking sticks.
“It can be frustrating at times, trying to explain to a five-year-old why he needs to use them when he can get around on his frame,” he said. “But he has been very good and always done the things asked of him.
“It has been a tough year but it was always about giving him a chance.”
The couple, who also have 19-month-old daughter Inaya, said they remained eternally grateful to all those who helped raise more than £37,000 for the operation and subsequent rehabilitation.
“Having the money there means we don’t have to wait to buy any new equipment which could help him,” said Faye. “We recently bought a bodysuit for him to help with his sensory issues.
“They are new items coming out all the time that could make things easier for him and they all cost money.”
Although the family reached their fundraising targets, donations are still being accepted for Corin’s two-year programme of physiotherapy which costs £100 a session. Go to www.justgiving.com/corinsfirststeps to help.