If you are a parent of a little one, you know all about the dreaded hand, foot, and mouth disease. The little virus makes kiddos miserable, takes a long time to fully run its course, and is insanely contagious.
On Halloween of 2014, at 18 months old, after not so much as a small cough throughout his life, Jasper Thornton Jones caught the nasty virus. At the time, his parents, Felix and Kate, accepted the diagnosis and prepared to hunker down for a week or so as it worked its way through Jasper’s body. They had no idea the common virus can have serious complications.
Within a few days, Jasper seemed to be back to himself. But not long after Christmas of 2014, his heart stopped and he was put on life support. Unbeknownst to Felix and Kate, (and probably the majority of parents) there is a sliver of a chance the virus can appear to be out of the system, but it slowly attack organs. In Jasper’s case, it was his heart.
Jasper stayed on life support for two weeks, during which he suffered a spinal stroke which left his legs paralyzed.
Unwilling to accept the prognosis, Felix and Kate sought out the best program to help Jasper. Kate, Jasper, and Jasper’s little brother, Elliot left their home in the UK and headed to a rehab hospital in Louisville, Kentucky where they spent the next 14 months.
According to Jasper’s Tree of Hope website, he had physical therapy twice a day, every day, in Kentucky. Felix and Kate opted for this facility because they use “cutting edge physical therapy which is proven to promote permanent recovery of muscle function in people with spinal cord injuries.” This method is used not only to strengthen the muscles but also aids in the healthy growth and development of bones.
Jasper and his family returned to the UK after his intensive treatment in Kentucky, and he continued to have physical therapy five times a week at a newly-opened therapy center that is part of the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation – or, as you may know them, Superman and his Wife.
Today, Jasper is four years old and continues to improve thanks to regular therapy and innovative medical treatments and methodology. In fact, Jasper is even able to crawl again.
The week of August 13, 2018, BBC Two aired an episode of The Big Life Fix that featured Jasper and his family. In the episode, two experts, Haiyan Jiang and Yusuf Muhammad, used new technology to develop a custom-built electric scooter for Jasper. Any four-year-old would love their very own scooter, but this one has a greater purpose than smiles and fun (though they are an added bonus).
The scooter is pedal-operated, which allows Jasper to build up his calf muscle strength – which is essential to his ability to walk. Jasper had previously mastered how to ride a tricycle, but appeared to be relying on his core strength to pedal, rather than his legs.
Additionally, the experts (or angels, whatever you want to call them) gave Jasper a video game that uses motion sensors and will help him perfect the stepping motion used to walk.
While there is still progress to made (and a few adjustments to the scooter), Jiang is “really hopeful that he’ll be able to walk and… really thankful that [she and Muhammad] played some part in that.”
Take a look at the video below to see Jasper with his new therapy tools and the genuine appreciation of his parents. And, don’t forget to share!