Lentils help an Ipswich boy to walk

WHILE his school friends are playing football or riding their bikes out in the street, seven-year-old Kieran Seymour is inside - with his feet in a bowl of lentils and rice.

WHILE his school friends are playing football or riding their bikes out in the street, seven-year-old Kieran Seymour is inside - with his feet in a bowl of lentils and rice.

The strange exercise regime has helped him get back on his feet, after the horrific road accident that devastated his family ten months ago. SARAH GILLETT reports.

AS Samantha Seymour watches her son running and jumping across her living room floor, she knows things could have been so different.

When Kieran was hit by a motorbike, as he crossed London Road with his grandparents and brother Ethan last August, his injuries were so serious he had to be air-lifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital where, for a while, his life hung in the balance.

Samantha said: “He had three breaks in his left leg and one in his right, but when he first had the accident they could not do anything to his legs until he came back to Ipswich.

“They were more concerned about the swelling on his brain and did not want to do anything that might make him worse.”

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Eventually he had a series of operations on them and now has steel pins in both legs.

Today his cheeky grin gives no indication of the trauma he has been through and it would be difficult for an outside observer to spot the slight limp he still suffers from, but Samantha said it has been a long and difficult journey: “It has been hard work but we are really pleased he has come so far. To put a child through what he has had to go through in such a short space of time has been really hard.

“While other children have been out playing on their bikes, he's had to be in here,” she said.

“I've also had to stop him from going to other people's parties and things like that because I know that once he gets there it will be too frustrating for him, because he won't be able to play any of the games that the other children do.

“It wouldn't be fair to take him somewhere where he just has to sit and watch.”

Kieran is making steady progress, and can now do many of the things that doctors doubted he would ever do again. He still has problems with his balance, and flexibility in his foot which mean he can not yet ride a bike or play football.

Samantha said: “He finds it hard to move his feet up and down, which means he wouldn't be able to push the pedals on a bike, and it's still a bit too early for him to have the kind of impact on his feet that he would get if he played football.

“The trouble is, he wants to do all these things and sort of forgets what his limits are sometimes!”

Much of Kieran's remarkable recovery is down to the dedicated doctors and physiotherapy team at Ipswich Hospital who have spent hours helping him slowly get the use of his legs back.

Samantha said: “They are so patient with him. They always encourage him and make it fun.

“They go out of their way to help him and on his birthday they even brought in a cake for him.”

Kieran's physiotherapy sessions began in earnest when he had the plaster cast taken off his right leg on October 20, although the cast on his left remained on until December 8.

He now has weekly sessions at the hospital and has a set of exercises to practice at home for around an hour everyday - which, until recently, included sticking his feet in a bowl of rice and lentils and pulling out small objects with his toes.

Samantha said: “The up and down movement in his feet was limited and he could not bend his toes properly so they got us to fill up a bowl with lentils and then place objects in there and pick them out with his feet.

“We used toy cars and stuff like that.”

Other exercises include lifting his legs up and down and wiggling his toes - simple movements that help to gradually build up his strength and flexibility - but, like any seven-year-old, he has found the constant routine frustrating at times.

“There have been many temper tantrums while we've been making him do his physio”, Samantha said.

“There were certain things that he would not do or could not do because he said it felt like his leg was going to snap.

“He gets really frustrated and it's hard to make him realise that we are doing it all for his own good.

“We have to keep saying to him 'If you do this then your leg will get better and you will be able to go out and do all the things you want to do.'

“It's hard to make him do things when he is screaming at you but hopefully, down the line, he will realise we are only doing it to make him better.”

Until recently, Kieran's weekly sessions at the hospital included hydrotherapy, where he would exercise in a swimming pool so that the water would support his weight.

Samantha said: “It worked on his balance, because the water helped to support him. Before he was allowed to run around a room, he was allowed to jump and run in the water. He and the other children have been playing basket ball in the water and things like that, so he was getting the exercise while playing.”

While Kieran has made a remarkable recovery, the family's joy at his progress is suffused with sadness.

Kieran's grandmother Christine died from the injuries she suffered in the accident and his granddad Brian lost both of his legs. Samantha said: “Kieran doesn't really talk about the accident. He says the last thing he can remember is touching a tree, before he crossed the road and that's it.

“If other children ask him why he is at the hospital, he doesn't say anything.”

For now, the focus is on getting Kieran back to full fitness, and the outlook is good.

He will have a series of x-rays this month to check how well his leg is healing, and Samantha is optimistic.

She said: “Hopefully, if it all goes well, he will be out there on his bike later this summer.”

Esther Rust, senior paediatric physiotherapist at Ipswich Hospital, has been in charge of overseeing Kieran's care.

She said it has been a long process, but the team are delighted to see him progressing so well.

She said: “I first started seeing him in October last year, he still had his leg in plaster and was walking with a zimmer frame.

“We gave him a graded exercise programme to do at home, which includes the exercise where he had to put his feet in the bowl of lentils. He was also coming here for weekly one-to-one physiotherapy sessions where we would carry out mobilisation techniques, which basically means manipulating his knee and ankle joints to keep them moving and stop them stiffening up.

“His treatment has also included hydrotherapy and he's now moved on to weekly circuit sessions with our physiotherapy assistants.

“Those sessions will finish in a couple of weeks and he's then due to come back to me for a full assessment.”

She added: “He has been so brave and done really well. When we told him he could start running again he was raring to go, whereas when we first started with him he could be quite reluctant because he was very anxious about doing anything that might hurt.

“As the months have gone by, his confidence has really grown and the fact that he has done so well is a real testament to his family and all the support they have given him.”


Do you know somebody who has battled back to fitness? Have you got a message of support for the Seymour family? Call the Star Newsdesk on 01473 324789 or email eveningstarnews@eveningstar.co.uk.