A WOMAN whose daughter was offered just four physiotherapy sessions per year by the HSE has been forced to start a fundraising campaign to pay for a specialised exercise machine to help spinal injury sufferers.
Edel Ryan, 12, from west Tipperary, has been without the use of her legs since she and her mother Joan were seriously injured in a road crash in 2001.
However, she has been denied access to a new exercise machine at the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dún Laoghaire because staffing shortages have led to the equipment being limited to inpatients, her mother says. “It’s so frustrating, knowing that this machine is there and is described by doctors as being of great benefit to people with spinal injuries, and she can’t use it,” Joan Ryan told the Irish Examiner.
“There are so many other families in the same position as us.”
Edel spent eight months in the NRH after the car crash. The €300,000 Lokomat allows disabled patients to undergo treadmill exercise to help strengthen their limbs and improve circulation. The machine at the NRH, unveiled last year by Health Minister Mary Harney, is the only one in the country.
“We were up at the launch and it was given great approval and we were expecting that Edel and other people throughout the country would be given their turn, but we’ve heard nothing.
“Unfortunately, because of the HSE restrictions on recruitment, the Lokomat is restricted to inpatients only,” said Ms Ryan.
“It’s not a cure as such and Edel could be in a wheelchair for years or for the rest of her life, but it would help her to stay in shape and keep her lungs and heart and cardiovascular system healthy.”
Ms Ryan, who was left with a severe visual impairment by the crash seven years ago, said the HSE offered Edel only four physiotherapy sessions in Cashel per year, due to staffing issues.
Instead, the family travel from their farm in Clonoulty to Patrickswell in Limerick every weekend to get private physiotherapy for Edel, as well as helping her with exercises at home.
In a statement, the HSE said physiotherapy services in the South Tipperary local health office area assess each individual and provide services based on the individual’s needs and within available resources. “In recent years, this service has expanded and developed,” it said.
Edel’s parents are starting a campaign to raise €300,000 for a Lokomat machine to be based at the Patrickswell clinic. They are seeking charitable status for their Coiscéim Eile fundraising campaign and hope 300 businesses will donate €1,000 each.
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