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Trust physio supports young patient unable to walk to run 8km

Michelle Snowden, a Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist at the Trust has been working with Finlay, a 14 year old with cerebral palsy from Hoveringham, who took lockdown as an opportunity to improve his strength and physical ability. He has gone from hardly walking to now running an amazing 8.2km!

Cerebral palsy, which Finlay has, is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination. Because of this, throughout his life he has walked with a walker, but as he has got older and heavier, he became almost wheelchair bound.

In January Michelle supported Finlay to test out a Race Runner, which is a three wheeled frame which is a very effective way of improving overall fitness, strength and physical and emotional wellbeing. He really took to it and so Michelle applied for the funding for this, to replace his existing walking aid.

This was issued to the family at the end of April. He has used this almost daily with his family. He started off before he got this being able to walk approximately 20 meters with a walking frame, and this took about 5 minutes. All his dedication has paid off and he can now “run” more than 8km in his Race Runner without stopping.

Michelle said:

“Before Finlay got his Race Runner, he was becoming unmotivated to use his walking frame because it was so heavy, and it was putting him off walking so I looked for something else that could help.

“The runner is lightweight, so it was easier for him to use and gave him the confidence to walk and then run.

“During lockdown I wasn’t able to see him so offered over the phone support. I visited him a couple of weeks ago and the difference in him was incredible to see.

“Physio exercises have always been part of Finlay’s daily routine but can sometimes be a challenge. But with this Finlay loves it so actually wants to do it."

As well as the running, previously he could do about 10 sit ups at a time and 10 press ups. Now after a daily programme supported by mum and dad, Finlay can now complete at least 30 sit ups and 30 press ups. 

We spoke to Finlay’s mum Melanie who said:

“We received the Race Runner at the start of lockdown which presented an ideal opportunity for Finlay to get used to and start using the Runner before returning to school.

“At first, Finlay really struggled, only managing a few laps of the courtyard and a few-hundred yards down the road before finding himself really out of breath. But he absolutely loves being able to get out, so now, several weeks on, Finlay has progressed from a walking pace around the yard to 8k runs at around 5mph.

“It really has been life changing for Finlay and us as a family. We are now able to go out and do so much more together. Finlay now runs daily with me and other members of the family. In fact, at this rate it won’t be long before we’re struggling to keep up.

“What is so lovely to see is that he absolutely loves it. It has given him a focus that he enjoys and wants to excel at, while working on his overall muscle strength and fitness which is so important for someone with cerebral palsy.

“Seeing your child go from not really walking at all to running over 8km is just fantastic. The step change we have seen in Finlay is not just physical, but also his mental wellbeing and energy.

“I can’t thank Michelle enough for her support in helping Finlay get this runner and for her support with his strengthening exercises. She has been brilliant and available whenever we have needed her.

“Finlay is so proud of himself and constantly wants to improve. And we couldn’t be prouder of him.”




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