Emerson was born in Surrey in December 2014, a happy baby full of life and smiles. He began to walk at just 11 months old, and had great ball skills, able to kick and control where it was going.
When Emerson was 16 months old he started to become unwell, his health and ability deteriorated quickly and by the time he was 19 months old he could no longer stand unsupported.
His parents sought medical advice and an MRI in August 2016 showed an arachnoid cyst on the outer cover, or sheath, of his spinal cord from C6/7 to T2. Emerson had surgery to reduce the cyst and his parents were then told he was paralysed from below C6/7 with an incomplete injury. Unfortunately, the cyst returned in August 2017 and then again in October the same year.
Because of the high level of Emerson’s injury, he suffers from autonomic dysreflexia on a daily basis. It’s normally linked to his bladder and bowel management. However, it can be triggered by anything as simple as him playing on the floor with a toy, a toy digging into his leg. Or it could be when a piece of clothing is too tight. Anything where his body is going to react to pain.
Spinal Research is funding research in this area in the UK and internationally, with the objective of developing electrical stimulation, most likely in conjunction with other therapies. In 2018, we funded the first small clinical trial in the UK involving patients using a combination of electrical stimulation and activity-based therapy.