A mother has praised her “amazing determined wee boy” for his bravery in the face of challenges caused by a life-long condition.
Jack Ellwood, 5, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 15 months old, just four months before the death of his dad Steven.
Now as part of cerebral palsy awareness month, his mum Karen has spoken out about how Jack doesn’t let the condition hold him back.
Karen, 32, said: “I had a straightforward pregnancy.
“Jack was born two weeks early, a healthy 9lb, after a straight-forward birth in Dundee Midwifery Unit.
“He was taken to SCBU for checks on his colour and breathing, but he was back with me within two hours.
“As a baby, Jack was late at meeting milestones but like everything else you think they all do things at different times. As he began to sit and play we noticed he was very dominant with his left hand.”
A chat with Karen’s sister-in-law led to the health visitor being involved and a referral to Ninewells for a MRI scan.
The scan showed damage to the left side of Jack’s brain, with a fluid sack causing his condition of right-sided hemiplegia which is a form of cerebral palsy.
Hemiplegia is a life-long condition that is caused by an injury to the brain which affects movement on one side of the body.
Karen said: “Jack was diagnosed at 15 months old. From that day he has had his struggles – not walking until he was over two years old and delayed speech.
“We have attended physio, occupational therapy and go to Armitstead every six months.”
Jack wears an Afo splint which helps to keep his foot flat on the ground and supports the muscle tone in his right leg. The sessions at Armitstead are to check he is coping well and meeting his milestones.
Karen, from Douglas, added: “We were unsure how he would cope with a nursery/school setting but he is doing amazingly and has no additional support in the classroom.
“Physically he gets tired, can’t walk long distances or run and climb as fast or as well as his peers, he can trip quite a lot but he doesn’t let it stop him.
“He struggles with fine motor skills with things like buttons and shoe laces because of the lack of use in his right hand but like everything else he finds his own way around it.
“He hasn’t had an easy start in life, from the diagnosis to four months later us losing Steven, but he never fails to amaze.
“Right-sided hemiplegia/cerebral palsy is more common than we think.
“There just isn’t much awareness about it and I feel raising awareness on the condition can help other families in our situation, so they aren’t on their own and things can be all right.
“It would also be nice to meet and talk to families who are in the same situation as us.
“As Jack’s mum I’ll never let him be defined by the word disability and will always make sure he reaches his full potential and lives a good life.
“He’s an amazing, funny, determined wee boy and I couldn’t be prouder of him – and both of us for doing this together.
“We’re very lucky to have amazing family and friends around that help us.”