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6-year old disabled girl benefits from special pool sought by East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices

PUBLISHED: 11:48 07 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:53 07 December 2016

Bethany Smith, of Norwich, at a hydrotherapy session.

Bethany Smith, of Norwich, at a hydrotherapy session.

Archant

The region’s children’s hospice charity has launched a film to show how much it needs a hydrotherapy pool which can help seriously ill youngsters.

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each) has two such pools at its Suffolk and Cambridgeshire premises, but not at Quidenham – where the charity helps youngsters and their families from Norfolk.

To show what a difference the pool can make, Each has produced a film about six-year-old Norwich girl Bethany Smith.

She has a neuromuscular condition which means her muscles are not as strong as they should be, but she has made major improvements in her physical ability after starting hydrotherapy two years ago.

The four-minute film was launched at Each’s gala dinner in London last week, where Each ambassador Ed Sheeran performed. The event raised more than £350,000 for the charity.

Currently Each uses a community pool in north Norfolk to offer limited hydrotherapy sessions to local families.

Hydrotherapy sessions give children a freedom of movement and muscle relaxation that they cannot get with land-based therapies.

It is hoped money can be raised to ensure Each’s planned new £10m site at Framingham Earl contains a hydrotherapy pool.

The planned premises will be called the nook.

Debra James, a physiotherapist with Each, said: “Although at Quidenham we are very limited currently with our hydrotherapy resources, we have seen the
amazing results of how much it can impact the life of a child and family through Bethany.

“Having our own pool at the nook will mean we are able to offer this invaluable service to many more families.”

The film was produced by Ember Films, a production company based in Norfolk.

Bethany’s story

Bethany Smith was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in January 2012 after she suffered bronchiolitis and a collapsed lung. As well as her neuromuscular condition, she has been diagnosed with chest infection susceptibility which affects her respiratory and immune systems.

She began using hydrotherapy in June 2014. Prior to this she had very poor head control and was unable to sit unaided, crawl, or stand.

But after starting hydrotherapy, her mobility improved significantly and she can now sit up unaided and shuffle along the floor.

Her parents, Caroline and Steve Smith, said: “The progress she has made is wonderful. Once she even managed to stand with a small amount of support from us – which was an amazing moment.

“In future she’ll be able to control a powered wheelchair which will give her more independence.”

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