Just a day after little Elijah Cottle celebrated his third birthday in August 2022, he was diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), which is a rare polio-like condition that has left him suddenly paralysed from his waist down.
“Our loving, energetic boy who impacted so many lives with his love, has had his entire life changed in a matter of days,” says his mom, Courtney Matthei.
AFM, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, is an uncommon but serious neurologic condition that affects the grey matter of the spinal cord, causing muscles and reflexes to weaken.
It is thought to be caused by viruses, including enteroviruses, flaviviruses, herpesviruses, and adenoviruses. There is currently no specific treatment for AFM, but various interventions are recommended by clinicians on a case-by-case basis.
After several intensive procedures and treatments, Elijah was finally discharged from the ICU at Christiaan Barnard Hospital in September 2022.
However, this was just the start of Elijah’s long journey towards regaining mobility.
From endless days of playing with friends, jumping around, playing soccer and riding bikes, he has had to learn to adjust to a new quality of life in a wheelchair.
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His rehabilitation schedule is intense, with four day sessions every week, consisting of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and hydrotherapy. He also has a caregiver to assist with his needs and transportation to and from therapies.
Courtney has had to put her job on hold to oversee his care. The path to his recovery is paved with great financial strain, specialised equipments, therapies and treatment.
However, Elijah and his family remain determined to recover and regain his mobility despite the challenges and intense rehabilitation schedule.
You can donate to Elijah’s Back a Buddy campaign here.
“We understand that if you are not in a position to donate at this time, we kindly ask that you keep Elijah in your prayers and share our story with as many as possible,” concludes Courtney.
You can follow Elijah’s journey on his Instagram here.
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Picture: @elijah.cottle / Instagram