A teenage boy who has suffered a “catastrophic” mental decline can be physically restrained to allow doctors to further investigate the cause of his illness, a judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Mostyn was today told that the boy suffered a head injury playing football shortly before his downturn but doctors had been unable to pinpoint what was wrong.
He approved the use of “necessary” restraint, at a public hearing in the Court of Protection, where issues relating to sick and vulnerable people are analysed, in London, to allow more investigation to take place.
Lawyers representing specialists and the boy all agreed that restraint might be necessary and would be in the teenager’s best interests.
The judge was told that the youngster, whose family live in southern England, was in “long-term segregation” at a psychiatric hospital after being detained under the terms of mental health legislation.
He ruled that nothing could be reported which might identify the boy.
Barrister Victoria Butler-Cole, who represented the NHS hospital trust responsible for the teenager’s care, told the judge of the boy’s decline.
“He is autistic and prior to the summer of 2011 exhibited a relatively high level of functioning,” she said, in a written outline of the case which was given to Mr Justice Mostyn.
“Sadly, he has subsequently displayed psychotic symptoms and a high level of aggressive behaviour.”
She added: “Extensive efforts have been made to ascertain the reason for (his) catastrophic decline since 2011.
“His parents report that he suffered a head injury playing football shortly before his presentation worsened.
“Investigations for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases have been conducted, including Huntingdon’s disease, but all have been ruled out.”
She said other diseases could only be diagnosed with a CT or MRI scan. She said the boy would need a general anaesthetic and hospital bosses wanted a judge to authorise the use of necessary restraint to “enable investigations to be carried out”.
Barrister Bridget Dolan, who represented the boy and was instructed by the Official Solicitor – a Government body set up to help vulnerable people at the centre of litigation, said she supported the trust’s application.