Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

NOVA Employment's Own Medical Pioneer

14 Sep 2011If you live outside of Australia, or you just happened to miss this week’s episode of Sunday Night on channel 7, then you’ve come to the right place...

The current affairs show, featured one of NOVA Employment’s very own this Sunday 11th September; Martha Siede. Martha was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as a baby; the condition causes her very intelligent mind (with an IQ of 140), to have almost no control over her body.

Martha uses a manual wheelchair to get around, and couldn’t even complete the most simplest task of pouring a glass of water. She lives with her devoted husband, Andrew, who helps her out with everything that Martha can’t do, even applying her make-up.

Martha was invited to take part in a newly developed medical procedure, called Deep Brain Stimulation. When she learnt more about it, and heard of some of the positive results it had on other patients, she decided to go ahead with the risky surgery.

Deep Brain Stimulation involves inserting two small wires, directly into the effected part of the brain, that controls either muscle movement, or in Martha’s case, involuntary spasms. The wires are connected to a pace maker type device, a little bit larger than a matchbox, which will be inserted into her chest. The electrical currents can be adjusted to suit each individual, depending on their requirements.

Martha, who is 36, was the first person in Australia, with Cerebral Palsy, to undergo this experimental procedure. Previously, it had been trialled on people with Parkinson’s disease and the muscle disorder; Dystonia.

Professor Martin Krause, from Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, offered Martha the opportunity to take part in the trial, to hopefully improve her quality of life. Although, he warned her that some patients hadn’t had any improvement, and some, had had their lives changed significantly after surgery.

Whether Martha was going to have a positive outcome after the surgery, or not, she was prepared to be a pioneer, to help future sufferers of CP and other severe disorders and illnesses, make the most of their lives.

Before going into the potentially life threatening operation, Martha was understandably apprehensive. The night before being admitted into hospital, the family gathered together to enjoy a special dinner, she gave out letters to her loved ones, so they’d know exactly how she felt about them, and what they meant to her, just in case she didn’t wake up.

Luckily, the surgery was successful, and with only a couple of days recovery time required, Martha was ready to see what the future held for her.

Positive results take a bit of time and hard work to make themselves known, but after much determination, Martha can now sit for longer periods of time without uncontrollable twitching and muscle spasms, she can pour a drink, and even make a sandwich. She is persevering with physiotherapists and other medical professionals, to improve bit by bit, all the time.

I have had the pleasure of working with this lovely lady (who assists others with disabilities to find work) for almost a year now, and I can honestly say that she truly is an inspiration. Despite her needing to take a visit back to the doctor for a ‘tune up’ to adjust electrical frequencies every now and then, I haven’t heard a bad word from Martha about her experiences of the procedure, she is just thrilled that she was the first in Australia, with her condition, to be selected for this experimental procedure.

To watch the story from channel 7’s Sunday Night, click on this link: http://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/features/article/-/9506720/brain-wave-deep-brain-stimulation - You’ll also see another young man with Dystonia, Luke Wilmot, who underwent the surgery some years ago, who experienced radical results. Going from, barely being able to walk, to now driving a car.

We here at NOVA Employment are so proud of Martha, and all that she’s achieved, and we hope to see her up and walking or chasing us around the office one day in the future!

***I just received a phone call from Martha, thanking me for blogging about her. She wanted me to mention that she is not only grateful to have been selected for this medical trial, but she is also very passionate about having the procedure available to more patients, nationwide, and is working with her doctor, to push for Deep Brain Stimulation to be accessible to those in the public hospital system. So, watch this space, and hopefully, one day soon, thanks to Martha and the medical team that treated her, you'll see this potentially life changing surgery becoming a lot more of a common practice. - 15th September 2011.




Martha with husband Andrew and their two beloved pooches

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