Hitchin nine-year-old takes first steps after major surgery to help him walk independently

Jack Gower has been making rapid progress since his operation to help him walk independently.

Jack Gower has been making rapid progress since his operation to help him walk independently. - Credit: Archant

A nine-year-old boy has taken his first steps since major surgery to help him walk independently.

Jack Gower, of Stotfold Road in Hitchin, has spastic paraplegic cerebral palsy – a condition which makes limbs extremely stiff – and was dependent on drugs to give him some mobility.

In July, surgeons at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital performed a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy, which involved severing the nerves carrying signals to the brain which cause the muscles to permanently tighten.

They also removed the internal pump which had been administering a drug 24 hours a day to help his muscles to relax.

On Monday, Jack’s mum Ella said: “Jack is doing brilliantly following his surgery. He is still very weak muscle-wise and is having to work very hard to complete the exercises required to build up his muscles correctly, but this hasn’t stopped him.

“He is now walking with crutches and, thanks to a sponsored bounce by Jack’s friends at his Highover JMI School in Hitchin, he was able to complete 12 hours of intensive physiotherapy – when he was even able to take a couple of independent steps.

“We have booked another intensive course for the October half-term, so we’re very excited to see how much more he will progress.”

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Jack will need intensive physiotherapy for two years to give him the best chance of walking independently, and the Gower family have been raising funds to pay for this.

The community has really got behind Jack and his family, and more than £14,000 of their £30,000 target has been raised so far.

Pupils at Jack’s school raised about £4,500 through a sponsored bounce, and a single donation of £2,500 was made anonymously following an appeal in the Comet earlier this year.

Jack’s friend, seven-year-old Jen Clare from Stevenage, had the same operation three years ago and also walked 400 metres unaided to raise £665 towards his treatment.

To support Jack’s bid to walk independently, visit his fundraising page www.justgiving.com/Jackswishtowalk.

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