North Otago girl Charlee McLachlan is back home after life-changing surgery and she couldn’t be happier.
The 4-year-old was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2014 after she underwent an MRI scan for an issue related to her lungs.
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of disabling conditions which affect movement and posture.
In Charlee’s case, her right leg is shorter and she struggles to do everyday things such as climbing into bed, getting dressed, sitting on the floor, sitting on a seat, walking, running and riding her bike.
In April, she underwent a successful selective dorsal rhizotomy at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.
The procedure involved the opening the lumbar area of her back, the removal of the spinal cord and electronic testing of the sensory nerve fibres. The operation is a permanent cure for spasticity.
After more than 30 hours in the air and several stopovers during their flights from the United States, Charlee and her family arrived back in New Zealand last week.
Delighted to be back at the family farm near Duntroon, Charlee’s mother, Anna McLachlan, said her daughter was “doing amazing”.
Charlee was standing flat-footed and was “running everywhere”.
“It’s hard to slow her down,” Mrs McLachlan said.
Charlee will wear splints and a knee brace while she recovers, and will soon start a course of physiotherapy.
“We have to find a physio that’s going to be able to help with the rest of our needs. We’ve got a pretty tight physio regime we have to stick to, but so long as she keeps pretty active then we should be right until we get that going.
“Physiotherapy is going to be four to five times a week for a month, and then after that two or three sessions for well over a year, then it just tapers down until she is out of her splints.
“She also got a full set of orthopaedic soles, moulded to her feet, which she will wear.”
She said after the physiotherapy, it would be a matter of making sure Charlee kept active in the years to come.
Dr Tae Park, who performed Charlee’s surgery, will visit New Zealand next February.
Mrs McLachlan said the family hoped to meet him to report on Charlee’s progress.