Emerson Grant - RST Case Study

Florida physio encourages youngster to push his boundaries

Little Emerson Grant was keen to follow in his sporty siblings’ footsteps and picked up his first medal at his local football club when he was still a toddler.

The energetic youngster had started walking when he was just 10 months old and appeared on course to make his mark on the local soccer scene.

But in 2016 when he was 19 months old, a recurring rare arachnoid cyst on his spinal cord paralysed him from the chest down at C6/C7.

His life changed overnight and his mum, Anna-Marina Dearsley, said: “We knew that we needed to keep his body active, which at first was a challenge due to the limited therapies available on the NHS.

“We researched the physio therapy centres for children in the UK and quickly learnt that centres in America were much more forward and advanced in supporting children with a spinal cord injury. However, all this came at a price.”

During one of Emerson’s weekly visits to Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit, the family were introduced to Andy Galbraith from Prime Physio, based in Cambridge. He visited the family at their Surrey home to demonstrate some equipment.

“We were very new to the spinal cord injuries (SCI) world, but we were clear from the very beginning that Emerson would not allow his disability to define him.

“While we were discussing all the hopes and desires that we had for Emerson despite him now having a spinal cord injury, Andy directed us to The RS Trust website, where we learnt about Marrianne and her SCI journey.”

The family had researched many people affected by spinal cord injury during the time Emerson was in hospital, opening their eyes to the SCI world, giving them hope, and inspiring them to keep pushing forward in a positive manner.

“We constantly searched for people affected with a spinal cord injury that could be role model for Emerson and give him the energy to be the best he can.  Marrianne became one of these amazing inspiring people.”

A couple of years later, Emerson and his parents were invited to a NexGiving event, supporting the RS Trust and Spinal Research.

“We had the opportunity to tell Emerson’s story and what it was like living with a child with a spinal cord injury. We were thrilled to share our story, but even more thrilled to meet Andy and Marrianne in person.

“It was an amazing experience meeting the RST team and supporting spinal cord injury research; it opened our eyes to the many opportunities that would be available for Emerson and how important research and awareness is for finding that cure.”

The charity has provided Emerson with financial support as a contribution towards his activity-based therapy in Orlando, Florida.

His grateful mum said: “This was amazing and we are forever grateful. We have seen a massive progress in his ability, function and strength that has continued to allow him to become more independent with amazing upper body strength and slowing down the additional complications that come with a spinal cord injury.

“Seeing Emerson’s progress and determination when he visits the physio centres in Orlando is amazing. He is a different person physically and emotionally, always pushing boundaries, facing his fears and achieving the best results.

“We really cannot thank the RS Trust enough for being a part of Emerson’s journey and giving us continued hope for all the possibilities that are available for his future.”

His mum believes anyone who finds themselves in a similar position should get in touch with Andy and Marrianne.  “Don’t hesitate, contact them now.  They are approachable, caring and knowledgeable and they do so much to help others with a warm, caring smile and lots of laughs.

“We really appreciate everything the RS Trust has done for our family and others who have a spinal cord injury. It feels like we have known them forever…they are perfect role models for our son Emerson and, of course, our family.”