7-year old Denico was admitted to SJH in April 2022 after suffering a demyelinating brain injury. A demyelinating disease causes damage to the protective covering that surrounds nerve fibres in the brain, and the nerves leading to the eyes and spinal cord. This results in nerve impulses to slow or even stop, causing neurological problems.
On admission to St. Joseph’s, Denico could not engage with his environment at all. He was almost blind and unable to talk or understand anyone. He was bed ridden and completely dependent on others for his most basic needs.
There is no cure for demyelinating diseases, but therapies can alter the disease progression in some patients. Knowing this, but determined not to be discouraged, the multi-disciplinary team put their heads together to create an intensive rehabilitation therapy programme for Denico. His mom was very supportive from the start, actively participating in his daily care and therapy, and visiting as much as she could.
In addition to his daily rehabilitation therapy, Denico was fed special nutritional supplements through a nasogastric tube to ensure he received all the nutrients needed as a growing boy.
I believe that the progress Denico made at SJH was because of his determination and go- getter attitude. ” -Vania van Wyk (Physiotherapist)
Denico’s progress was remarkable. Eight months later he was discharged into the loving care of his mom who had supported his rehabilitation process every step of the way. At this point he was able to put weight on his legs, stand with assistance, and even crawl on his own. He was safely eating roughly mashed foods. The most exciting change was his engagement level with the other children and how he was trying, in his own way, to participate in activities. He particularly loved playing along with the maracas and drums. When he was excited, he would nod and shake his head for yes and no!
Denico’s smiling face will be missed at St. Joseph’s, but our hearts are full knowing he is so much better, and our job is done!