A girl was left paralysed from the neck down after she became dizzy doing handstands with her mum. Maisie Jones, nine, suddenly couldn’t walk after doing the gymnastics, with seemingly no explanation. She said she suddenly felt dizzy and her tummy hurt. Her mum Louise Jones took her to Southend Hospital but the family didn’t receive a diagnosis. According to Mrs Jones the tummy ache was determined as ‘chronic constipation’ and the dizziness was unexplained. Her daughter was sent home and ‘could hardly walk’ before she was admitted again.
But in July, Maisie collapsed and was eventually transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital. At her worst, she couldn’t move from the neck down. Doctors eventually worked out she was suffering from Functional Neurological Disorder, which was highlighed by the handstands. Maisie now has to use a wheelchair, has been taken out of school and hasn’t walked unaided since July. Mrs Jones, 47, said: ‘It has been extremely stressful and it is breaking my heart. ‘A little girl doing cartwheels and handstands and the next minute she can’t walk with no real explanation. ‘It was completely out of the blue.’
FND often impacts teenage girls and Maisie must now retrain her brain in order to walk again. She is being homeschooled until she can finally get back on her feet. Maisie has had to move to a downstairs bedroom because she can no longer use the stairs. Her autistic brother, Tommy, five, has also struggled to cope. ‘He doesn’t understand why his sister can’t play with him anymore,’ Mrs Jones, of Hullbridge, Essex, said. ‘Maisie gets upset because she can not get up and run around. She can’t go to the park anymore because she gets too upset.’ She added: ‘My little boy keeps saying when Maisie is better everything will be normal again. We don’t know which way to turn.’ The family is now raising ‘desperately needed’ funds to pay for a private psychologist and therapist and for Maisie to have hydrotherapy treatment.
CEO of The Brain Charity, Nanette Mellor, said: ‘Functional Neurological Disorder is a much more common condition than many people think and, because it affects the brain, it can affect people in so many different ways. ‘We have supported adults who have lost their jobs and their homes as a result and young people who have been rendered paralysed by it for months at a time. ‘For many people with this condition, their whole lives will turn upside down. ‘I think one of the most difficult aspects of having a diagnosis of FND is that really, we still have very little information about the causes of it and this really impedes our ability to find treatment. ‘FND is also known as ‘medically unexplained neurological symptoms’ so what we are essentially saying is that we don’t know what this is yet. ‘The brain is such a complex and mysterious thing and we are only really just beginning to understand how to measure and assess what is going on inside it. ‘So for those with FND, getting a diagnosis and remaining positive about finding treatment that will work for them is a long hard battle.’