‘Amazing’ work of charity helps cerebral palsy sufferer Sienna defy doctors and walk

From left, mum Rosie Squires-Steptoe, Sienna, Michael and sister Hollie, three

From left, mum Rosie Squires-Steptoe, Sienna, Michael and sister Hollie, three Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

BRAVE Sienna Steptoe is standing tall despite being told she would never be able to walk.

At only five months, her parents were told by doctors at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital that she would never walk, talk or see.

Now the seven-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer’s beaming face shows the difference it has made to her life, thanks to five years of help from the county’s Footsteps Foundation.

The charity provided intensive physiotherapy and the use of a “spider” harness to get the Drayton youngster on her feet.

Dad Michael Steptoe, 41, said: “We are over the moon.

“It is absolutely amazing considering when she was born and diagnosed with brain damage we were told she wouldn’t walk, talk or see, she would have to just lie there doing nothing. We were determined we would prove the doctors wrong.”

For three weeks, three times a year, Kingfisher School pupil Sienna attends the Dorchester-on-Thames charity, with each session costing £1,500.

In 2011 the Oxford Mail reported how she was starting to take her first steps.

Sienna, who has a three-year-old sister Hollie, took her first 20 steps alone in November, and now can bounce on her bed and trampoline.

Oxford Mail:

Sienna in the ‘spider’ harness

Roof tiler Mr Steptoe’s cousin Gareth Cole, of Didcot, ran a marathon, and the charity has also contributed.

Mr Steptoe said: “It has made a 100 per cent difference to her. Before she was shuffling along on her bottom and was restricted to certain places. Now she can join in and play with other kids.

“It is life-changing, not just for Sienna but for us as a family. They have helped a huge amount. She is a very strong, determined little girl with a great zest for life.”

He added: “She has vision impairment, she wears glasses, but she can see. She can’t talk. That can be a little frustrating if she is ill or not happy.”

Mum Rosie Squires-Steptoe, 39, underwent a prolonged labour and Sienna did not breath for the first 10 minutes of her life, though the exact cause was never determined. The hairdresser said: “We always said the doctors were wrong, that we would get her to walk. Footsteps are the ones that helped her get where she is today. They are amazing.”

 

Speaking during this week’s Celebral Palsy Awareness Week, Jurek Puchala, a therapist for Sienna since 2010, said: “She is continuing to gain confidence and seems to be enjoying therapy more each time. Sienna is now taking precise steps and is generally more stable. She’s very active and enjoys walking, running and jumping.”

THE CONDITION

  • Cerebral palsy covers a group of neurological conditions that affect movement and co-ordination.

The condition is caused by problems in the nervous system and the brain’s ability to control muscles, when there is a brain abnormally or it is damaged before, during or shortly after birth.
Causes include infections caught by the mother during pregnancy, a difficult or premature birth, bleeding in the baby’s brain, or mutations in the genes that affect the brain’s development.

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