Molly Moore: Stroke patient receives 'space therapy'

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Media captionMolly Moore receives intensive physiotherapy when she is strapped into her "astronaut's suit"

One thousand miles from home, in a small town in Slovakia, a 10-year-old girl from Cambridgeshire is hard at work.

Molly Moore, from Offord Cluny, is like many other little girls - she loves chips and horses and One Direction.

But just after her sixth birthday Molly suffered a stroke as a result of a condition that had been dormant since birth, leaving her unable to swallow, speak or walk.

Since then, her parents have devoted themselves to her rehabilitation.

Although Molly's condition has improved - she can now walk down a lengthy corridor - her parents decided to bring her to the Adeli Medical Centre in Piestany, a world-renowned neuro-rehabilitation clinic that is the only place in Europe to offer a special "space medicine" treatment.

Hard graft

They heard about the treatment through other rehabilitation centres they have been to.

The trip and the treatment has cost about £4,000, with friends, family and the local community and businesses clubbing together to make it possible.

Molly's treatment programme is hard graft. It starts at 07:30 BST and finishes at 14:00 with just 30 minutes break.

She is strapped into a blue suit that resists her every move. It is similar to that worn by astronauts to prevent muscle wastage caused by lack of gravity.

Every buckle is pulled tight, every elastic cord is taut.

The physiotherapy consists of endless repetitions, lifting, turning and bending Molly's arms and legs.

Molly counts carefully, but sometimes it is too much.

She says it hurts and she has tears in her eyes.

Maxim Raskin, the centre's director, says it is like training a sportsman.

"It feels like a heavy load," he said.

"The suit basically constrains her as it imitates artificial gravity. It basically pushes her to the ground and makes her resist that weight and in that sense trains her body for better walking and keeping her body up straight."

Image caption The physiotherapy consists of endless lifting, turning and bending of Molly's limbs

Over the next two weeks, Molly will also undergo speech therapy to improve the muscles in her mouth and tongue.

She also has a treatment called biofeedback, where her brain is monitored as she watches a car racing on a computer screen.

If she loses concentration, the car stops.

'Beautifully straight'

Then there is oxygen therapy, where she breaths in pure oxygen helping to wake up the "sleeping cells" in her brain.

And she has massage, vital for circulation and soothing her tired limbs.

Molly's mother Katie says she has noticed a difference.

"We've only been here three days but already I can see Molly sitting so much better," she said.

"I kind of did a double-take because she was sitting so beautifully straight and when we left Stansted she was always sitting with one shoulder raised and one shoulder lower.

"I can see by this time next week we're going to have big improvements."

Ms Moore says they have been told there is no reason, from either a physiological or neurological point of view, why Molly should not be able to walk again.

"We know she's going to get out of her wheelchair and walk one day," she said.

"It's just going to take time and effort."

It's lonely being so far from home. It's even a bit boring. But in a bizarre twist of fate, a five-year-old girl called Ava Chaplin and her family from Chelmsford, in Essex, are also here.

The families bond instantly, kindred spirits in a town renowned for its rehabilitation of body and mind.

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