Five-hour brain surgery to help Hartlepool girl walk again

Always smiling - Charlotte Wisdom.
Always smiling - Charlotte Wisdom.

A brave Hartlepool youngster has endured extensive brain surgery in a bid to walk again.

Charlotte Wisdom underwent the gruelling five-hour operation in London this week as part of her battle with a neurological condition.

Charlotte Wisdom in the pool.

Charlotte Wisdom in the pool.

Over the last five years the courageous nine-year-old has gone from a lively healthy little girl who loved to dance, to spending most of her time in a wheelchair, unable to walk or feed herself.

A pupil at Lynnfield Primary School, Charlotte suffers from dystonia, which means all her muscles spasm and contract.

It is caused by a problem with brain signals to the muscles and medics at London’s King’s College Hospital operated to stimulate the brain and have connected wires under the youngster’s skin to her legs.

Charlotte’s grandmother, Pat Sprintall, said: “We were so worried about the surgery, but she is doing as well as can be expected.

She is doing as well as can be expected

Pat Sprintall

“We know it is going to be a really long process, but doctors have said there is a 60% chance of her gaining her mobility again.

“The wires are powered by a battery which she will have to charge every day.”

The youngster, who lives in Padstow Close with her parents, Stephanie, 29, Keith, 31, and 11-year-old brother, Joshua, was fine until she reached the age of four.

Pat, who lives in West View, said: “She was a perfectly healthy little girl, but at about the age of four she started falling over, which we just put down to being clumsy.

Charlotte Wisdom during a family holiday.

Charlotte Wisdom during a family holiday.

“But, then her foot started to turn inwards.”

Eventually after a lot of tests Charlotte was diagnosed with dystonia and it started to spread throughout her body into her other limbs.

Pat said: “Her limbs move all the time, even when she is asleep, she can’t control them. It means she can’t feed herself or walk.

“We want to raise awareness of it, because we had never even heard of dystonia until Charlotte was diagnosed.”

Charlotte loved to ballet dance before she became ill.

Charlotte loved to ballet dance before she became ill.

Stephanie, who works in the town centre McDonalds, and contractor Keith, 31, are by their daughter’s bedside in London and it’s not clear yet if the family will be home in time for Christmas Day.

Pat said despite her condition, Charlotte is always smiling and never complains.

She said: “She was more worried about having all her hair shaved off for the operation than she was about the surgery, so I went and had mine shaved off just to support her.”

Then, Charlotte went to the hairdressers and had all her hair cut off and even donated to the Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.

Charlotte Wisdom following her brain surgery in London.

Charlotte Wisdom following her brain surgery in London.