Oct 2021 2nd edition

Rehab for children with genetic disorders

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

When Sihle Msimango (11) was born with hemiplegic cerebral palsy it was thought she would never be able to walk. Hemiplegic cerebral palsy affects motor abilities and muscle tone on the body.Antoinette Harvie with her late son Maxim.

Msimango’s plight was changed when she started receiving The Anat Baniel Method (ABM) of Neuromovement treatment. The 11-year-old from Soweto can now walk around her home without crutches. 

The ABM is a method of therapy that uses brain cells that are not damaged to take over the functions of the damaged ones.

Sihle’s father, Eddy Msimango, says his daughter started Neurogenesis therapy with the Red Balloon Foundation in October 2018. At the time she had been using a wheelchair.

“Her therapist stimulates her through gentle movements that help her brain to communicate with her body. On 13 April 2019, she started to slightly walk around the house..”

The Red Balloon Foundation is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that helps underprivileged children who are diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cortical visual impairment (CVI), stroke, brain injury and other genetic disorders.

The NGO was started in 2017 by Antoinette Harvie in memory of her late son, Maxim, who was born with a severe in-utero infection that led to him being diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment (CVI).

Harvie says they have managed to organise more than 800 therapy sessions, at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, for the 14 children they are funding. They are planning to add eight more children next year.

“We raise funds and organise ABM Neuromovement with therapists and psychologists sessions for 14 children like Sihle. With Sihle there has been a marked improvement on her school grades in addition to the physical development,” Harvie says.

The NGO also organises training sessions for parents on how to continue the treatment for children. Harvie says they bring in ABM Neuromovement experts from Canada to teach the local therapists and parents.

In addition, they have special training for parents on how to help children who have been diagnosed with CVI, a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that process vision.

For more information on the work of the Red Balloon Foundation email info@theredballoonfoundation.org.za or visit www.theredballoonfoundation.org.za.

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