Cerebral palsy therapy brings new hope for Kobi

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Kobi is on a three-year journey to ditch her wheelchair and learn how to walk.

Kobi has cerebral palsy, a life-long condition that affects her movement and posture.

Her family has signed up for a controversial and expensive new therapy that aims to correct her motor control, building up the connections between her brain and muscles.

She will learn how to sit up, roll over and eventually stand by herself.

When Kobi's brain and muscles are ready - in about six months time - she will strap on a TheraSuit, which will help teach her how to walk.

The suit uses a system of bungee cords connected to her arms, legs, shoulders, feet and torso, acting like a biomechanical exoskeleton.

Kobi's mother, Nicole Robbs, was ecstatic when she saw a television news report earlier this year about the new therapy.

"It gave us hope that she could walk by herself," Mrs Robbs said.

"No one else has ever told us that before."

The therapy will cost $6000 but eventually the suit will teach Kobi's brain to make a new channel around a damaged brain cell and increase feedback to her limbs.

"After six weeks we've already seen great improvements in her speech," Mrs Robbs said.

"But we need to teach her body how to desensitise.

"Her body only knows how to tense up at the moment."

For the next few months, Kobi will undertake a structured series of exercises designed by psychologist and physiologist Chad Timmermans.

These include sessions with her therapy peanut ball, spa therapy and a vibration plate.

■ Kobi Robb's Trust is open for donations at ANZ Bank. Account details for donations are BSB 012-563, account no. 285 189 213.

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