Drive to help cerebral palsy sufferer Aisling realise her dream

Aisling Tanner: Travels to Scotland three times a year, where her parents train to carry out special exercises to strengthen the parts of Aisling's body  affected by cerebral palsy.
Aisling Tanner: Travels to Scotland three times a year, where her parents train to carry out special exercises to strengthen the parts of Aisling's body affected by cerebral palsy.

A major fundraising drive has been launched to help a girl with cerebral palsy continue a pioneering treatment which could help her realise her dream to walk.

Aisling Tanner, 11, from near Enniskeane in West Cork, is believed to be the first child from Ireland to benefit from Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation (ABR).

The fifth-class student at Coppeen NS travels to a specialist centre in Scotland up to three times a year with her parents, Fergus and Therese, to meet Belgian experts.

They have been training her parents in a range of specialist exercise techniques to condition and strengthen the parts of Aisling’s body affected by cerebral palsy.

Fergus and Therese have to spend up to four hours every day performing the intense physical therapy on their daughter.

Therese said while it is a huge commitment, it has been worth every second.

“We just want to give her the best possible chance at leading an independent life.”

“We only have one chance at this before Aisling hits puberty and her body starts to change.

“As a mother, if I can get this therapy in place and continue it, the changes in her body will be permanent, and we will be glad we put the hours in.”

Aisling suffered a brain bleed during birth. However, she suffered no cognitive or mental impairments, but was left with physical impairments affecting all four limbs.

She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was nine months old and has been using a wheelchair since an early age.

But Therese said they have seen a remarkable improvement in Aisling’s posture since they began ABR almost two years ago. “They are long hours and it is a long journey but she is making progress,” she said.

“She has improved head control, increased mobility of her neck and shoulder girdle, her lumbar area has opened up, and there is a huge improvement in her tissue quality.

“There is still got a long way to go and we have a review in November, but we really want to continue this therapy.”

The therapy costs over €6,000 a year and the family must cover their own travel and accommodation costs.

A local committee is now planning to help them by organising a huge fundraising fashion show.

Spokeswoman Jenny Warren said the entire community is determined to help. “Juggling family life can be hard in itself, but to put the time and the effort they put in every single day shows the determination and the strength of this family.”

The fashion show takes place in the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway, at 8pm on September 19. Music will be provided by Hell for Leather, who have waived their fee for the night, and there will be a monster raffle with spot prizes.

Tickets priced €10 per person will be available on the night, and are also available from Barrett’s Shop in Coppeen, Illusions in Dunmanway and Cookie’s Bar in Castletown Kenneigh.

-Donations can be made to the Aisling Tanner Fund at AIB Bank Dunmanway, sort code, 93-60-73; account number, 05692022

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