Lisa’s son had a spinal stroke in 2020, at the age of 12, resulting in a T2 incomplete spinal injury. Lisa asked Aspire for advice about a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) appeal and a benefits check was completed. All her benefits are now maximised and Lisa’s monthly income has increased.

When he was 12, my son had a spinal stroke which damaged his spinal cord.  On the day, he got up as normal for school but told me he had a pain in his back and I could see that he was in a lot of pain. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of it really; I gave him some Calpol and thought it may be trapped wind or possibly a trapped nerve. I didn’t send him to school so he went back to bed, but he woke up in pain shortly after and couldn’t stand or walk, he had no strength in his legs. I phoned for an ambulance, but they said I should take him to the hospital myself because we could be waiting eight hours for the paramedics. I’m a single parent so I called his dad to come and help as there was no way I could carry him. It took two of us to get him into the car and into the hospital using a wheelchair.

We waited six hours in A&E and after all the different tests I could see that they were confused as to what was going on. Eventually they did an MRI scan and at first said it was an issue with his brain. He had to be transferred to a larger hospital, the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff where he had further tests, scans and lumbar punctures.  After a day or two and different consultations with doctors all over the UK, his spinal cord stroke was confirmed. 


At the time they didn’t say that he had a spinal cord injury, they just said he had a stroke near his spinal cord and that was it. It was only through my own research that I discovered what that meant and what the long-term impact would be.

I was in shock and it took a toil on my mental health

I gained as much information as I could from the internet and then asked the questions I needed, but unfortunately not a lot of my questions could be answered at the time because I don’t think they had seen a case like this. I was worried he wouldn’t walk again, but we just wanted him to be ok, that’s all that mattered to us. The physios were great and he made improvements quickly.

I really am so proud of him. It was such a shock especially because he was so young and healthy, but he has never complained or said “I can’t do that.” He has always had a really positive attitude to his recovery.

As soon as he started physio he said to me, “I think I will be able to walk again soon” and he did - it was Christmas Eve when took his first steps, the best Christmas present for all of us. 

We were very lucky that we have a close family who were able to help. Everyone found it stressful, but you have to get on with it. Because of Covid I was in the hospital 24/7; I couldn’t come home to pick up things we needed or wash clothes myself because I wouldn’t have been able to return for at least 24 hours, which was hard. My mother and my brother would collect our clothes to wash and return them. My son and I also struggled not seeing our dog for two months. It was a big change for everyone.  

Lisa with her dog

Experience with Aspire:
I found Aspire online. It was really helpful to just read what help was available before I even spoke to them.  It was great to know that there were people that had the knowledge and experience that I needed.

It was a massive relief to have Aspire’s support. The difference I felt after our call compared to how I felt when I sent my initial email was unbelievable, like a weight off my chest.  All of a sudden I felt like things were moving in the right direction and I could see more light, I’d been in a pretty dark place trying to keep it all together.

It can be difficult to ask for help and accept that you need to claim benefits. When you do it doesn’t help to feel like you are being scrutinised for the wrong reasons during a time in your life when you don’t need the extra stress. I was already trying to cope with the shock and trauma of my child being so poorly but Aspire really helped with this. Once the financial side of things was sorted, I felt a lot stronger and believed I could manage everything; we were going to be ok.

Once I received my benefits I was able to afford to buy a more reliable second hand car and not worry about getting my son to appointments or to and from school, which was important and a weight off my mind. 

We also purchased an exercise bike for him and are considering getting him a private physio or personal trainer in the future.  Because my income has increased I am less worried about money; I am no longer panicking about something breaking down in the house, which means I can concentrate on being there for my son and doing whatever he needs.

Aspire’s support definitely helped my mental health in a big way. I remember feeling very low and in a dark place myself. As a parent you take everything on and it was only me who was aware of all the possible long-term effects, my son was too young.  I honestly don’t know where I would be without Aspire’s input.

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