HCT Children’s Specialist Services help seven year old stroke victim on her road to recovery

Posted: May 21 2019

In December 2018, Laila Nicholls, aged seven, from Watford in Hertfordshire suffered a paediatric stroke.

HCT Children’s Specialist Services help seven year old stroke victim on her road to recovery

Laila with Children's Physiotherapist, Becky Raftery

Anyone of any age can have a stroke and that includes even babies and children. According to The Stroke Association, there are over 400 childhood strokes a year in the UK, which is more than one child every day.

In December 2018, Laila Nicholls, aged seven, from Watford in Hertfordshire became one of the 400.

Her mother Charley takes up the story: “I didn’t even know a child could have a stroke. If you looked at the signs in someone older, you would know that they’re having a stroke but you don’t put that together when it’s happening to a child.” Her daughter was at a friend’s party when she collapsed. Charley continues: “When I got there Laila looked up and me and said mum, I can’t speak. I broke there and then in every way a person could break.”

The seven-year-old was rushed to Watford General hospital and the next day was transferred to Great Ormond Street, where she was treated for 15 weeks.

After another short stay at Watford General, she was referred into the community care of Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) for her rehabilitation to begin.

Laila’s physiotherapist, Becky Raftery continues the story: “The stroke was caused by a blockage in her brain, which has resulted in weakness down one side of her body, as well as other complications. In the physio sessions, we’re working on strengthening the weaker muscles with the overall aim being for her to able to participate in day-to-day activities, such as going to school.”

HCT’s team of Children’s Physiotherapists also paid a visit to her school to see what activities could be adapted for her. All of this helped Laila’s rapid improvement but she’s also been seen by HCT’s Speech and Language Therapists and Children’s Occupational Therapists. Laila continues to have regular check-ups at Great Ormond Street.
Laila has one simple mantra that goes hand-in-hand with her tenacious will to get back to her old self: “Giving up is not an option!”

Charley explains why: Laila has not stopped improving, so they’re not going to stop working with her. She’s not giving up and neither are Becky and the team of Children’s Physiotherapists. That’s what’s helped her getting back to being my Laila again.”

Kirstie Simpson, Clinical Quality Lead for Children’s Specialist Services at HCT explained: “Having the ability to influence and change a child's life for the better after a stroke is at the heart of Children's Physiotherapy. Working together with the family to empower them to work towards their child and family goals is paramount to the work we do here at HCT, using play to build upon small goals, making everyday life that bit better.”

Watch a clip of Laila’s mum Charley talking about the care they received in the community.

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk