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Continued progress for Emma

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Kingsclere girl, Emma Clark, has made steady progress since undergoing a pioneering operation last year

A KINGSCLERE girl has continued to make good progress since undergoing a pioneering operation in the US last year.

Seven-year-old Emma Clark was born with cerebral palsy, and after her family raised £30,000 through various fundraising events, she underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery at the St Louis Children's Hospital, Missouri, North America, followed by further hamstring tendon-lengthening surgery.

The local community helped raise the cash which was needed to pay for the flight and the treatment, which is only available in America.

After taking 30 steps by herself in November, she has continued to make steady progress.

Her mother, Angela Clark, said this week that, over the Christmas break, they could “hardly believe it” when Emma rode her identical twin sister, Michelle's, stabilised bicycle.

“Prior to surgery, Emma could not sit on a normal bike,” said Mrs Clark. “She didn't have the balance. She'd tense up and couldn't keep her bottom on the seat, or her feet on the pedals. So we always had her in a disabled trike that had straps and such to keep her body and feet in place.”

She said that Emma was now practising pushing the pedals around in a full circle.

For safety, Emma still uses a walker at school in case any children bump into her, and she has tripod sticks for independence indoors, while her mother has set goals during the next couple of months for Emma to master pedalling independently on the bicycle, and to increase the amount of steps she can take unaided.

There had also been lots of “little successes,” said Mrs Clark, such as Emma sitting cross-legged on the sofa.

She added: “She can also sit with her legs stretched straight out in front of her, sitting positions we all take for granted, but that she couldn't do prior to surgery.

“Now she can be relaxed while watching television, or reading a book.

“She can sit in a chair and swing her legs.”

In the next couple of months, Emma is due to attend the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford for a check-up, and although further surgery may eventually be needed on her knees, they are hoping her progress will be obvious, and that no further hospital visits will be necessary this year.

Emma, who took part in a school talent show to raise funds for Children in Need, is looking forward to participating in a dance show at The Anvil theatre, Basingstoke, in July.

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