Cora’s story: Developing resilience

Cora, aged six, received injections of botox as part of a research study at GOSH. Most people will have heard of botox (or botulinum toxin to give it its proper name) as a cosmetic procedure but did you know that it can also be used to reduce muscle stiffness for children with cerebral palsy? Cora’s mum Poonam explains more: 

When we first heard that Cora was going to have botox injections we thought that it sounded a bit strange!” 

Cora’s condition 

"Cora has a mild form of cerebral palsy called hemiplegia. It means she has stiffness in the muscles on the right side of body including her leg and foot and has trouble balancing. It effects every aspect of her life as she’s actually working much harder to balance and to navigate the space around her. She has to focus on everything a bit more. 

"Cora was born with cerebral palsy but we first noticed when she started to walk as it was uneven. When Cora was about two years old we took her the GP. The doctor said that it’s probably ‘top down’ meaning it was coming from her brain. 

"What we find is that she sometimes falls over when she’s tired. We notice that she’s not always standing on her right leg so we need to encourage her to use each side of the body equally. By putting her weight onto the right side it helps make the connections in her brain and helps the bones and muscles strengthen. 

Developing resilience 

"We are trying to help Cora become more resilient and now she is learning to talk about herself and her differences. She calls her condition her ‘wobbles’. We put in place routines to help Cora and she does different stretches and exercises at home. It takes us extra time to get places and we have to go to regular appointments to assess the tightness in her limbs. 

"Cora’s goes to street dance after school and does gymnastics and drama at the weekend. It’s really important for Cora to keep active to build her muscles but she really likes the chance to veg out at home too. She loves to tell jokes and likes making herself laugh. Cora has younger twin sisters Bay and Juno and the three of them have a really cute dynamic going on and all like playing together. 

Getting involved in research 

"We were referred to GOSH by a consultant as she thought botox might help Cora’s foot. When we first heard about the botox injections we thought that it sounded a bit strange! The botox will help relax her muscles so we are hoping that it will give us a window to normalise the way she uses her legs. 

"The data that’s collected from the research will show what are the long term effects of botox are on Cora’s life and on her ability to take part in physical activities. 

"Since being on the show Cora can now ride her bike. Her condition means she has to work harder than other children but she can learn anything if she has strategy. I’m incredibly proud of Cora. She’s a really thoughtful and sensitive girl and I always feel like she’s older than she is."