Three Fleetwood brothers living with a rare muscle-wasting condition have spoken of their relief after receiving custom-made powered wheelchairs, with the help of a grant from a national charity.
Michael (31), Colin (29) and Peter (27) Robinson are all affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition which causes muscles to weaken and waste over time, leading to increasing and severe disability.
The Joseph Patrick Trust, a welfare fund within national charity, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, provided the brothers with a £10,000 grant towards the cost of three new specialist powered wheelchairs, after being contacted by their mother Alison in September.
She told how her sons have been using the same wheelchairs since they were teenagers and that the equipment no longer offered the support that they need, causing them pain and discomfort. Both Michael and Peter had developed painful indentations on the sides of their legs after outgrowing their wheelchairs.
About 100 children – almost always boys – are born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in the UK each year.
Specialised wheelchairs specifically designed to fit the bodies of those affected are vital to supporting the back, neck and head as symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy progress.
A Muscular Dystrophy Campaign study in 2013 found that almost half of people with muscle-wasting conditions that use a wheelchair were denied full NHS funding towards the cost of their specialist wheelchair, with many struggling to find thousands of pounds to cover the cost.
Peter Robinson said: “I have been in the same wheelchair for ten years and in that time my body has changed a lot. Our old powered wheelchairs were falling apart, so it’s such a relief to have a new set of wheels! Although it has taken a while to get used to get used to them, we’ve already noticed a big difference in what we can do. Sitting in the same chair all the time means that even small things make a big difference. Being able to recline it really take the pressure off your legs, which is a huge bonus and the extra neck and head support means it’s much safer for us to travel. We can get out and about more now. “
Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: “For many people with a neuromuscular condition, having the correct powered wheelchair is vital for independence and a good quality of life. After hearing about the Robinson family and the brothers’ need for new equipment we felt compelled to do all we could to help. We are delighted that Michael, Colin and Peter have now received their new powered wheelchairs and are enjoying life with more comfort and the correct seating and support.”