Born with multiple joint deformities, five-year-old Patrick has undergone ongoing plaster casting of his torso and legs and faced multiple surgeries since birth to correct abnormalities from his head to his toes.
In 2021, his upper body torso plaster was removed and replaced with a halo gravity traction – a method of gently stretching and straightening the spine through the attachment of a halo (a metal ring that surrounds the head).
This was a huge moment for Patrick and his family, as it meant he could experience a bath and go swimming for the first time since he was six months old.
He is permanently placed in ankle-foot orthoses during the day and fitted nightly into a ‘boots and bar’ brace set.
Patrick also undergoes treatments twice a year where both legs are plaster cast for up to six weeks to correct the position of his feet. A wheelchair is required during this time. Hand and wrist supports aid his daily activities, with different hand supports required during sleep to stretch and position his hands.
In order to minimise the time the family spent apart, they temporarily relocated to Brisbane last year from Katherine in the Northern Territory. This move helped Patrick’s demanding treatment schedule at Queensland Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve had to travel to Brisbane from the Northern Territory every three months for plaster castings and surgical procedures. It has been challenging to be far from home.
His treatment has entailed continual travel between Darwin and Brisbane, with long stays away from home. This has meant a very disrupted family life, as Patrick has two brothers at home, and I work full-time. In recent months, Patrick’s mother has suffered breast cancer, cellulitis and a major stroke, so the burden has been significant.”
“We are so grateful for the Foundation’s services and resources provided for Patrick and our family during years of hospital stays. They have greatly enhanced the quality and experiences we have had being away from our interstate home,” Patrick’s dad said.
Despite the physical restrictions in his castings and bracing, Patrick enjoys iPad games and mental stimulations and loves to play with toy trucks and cars. Patrick’s journey will be ongoing for the rest of his life, but he remains an upbeat young boy.
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