Emerson was born in Surrey in December 2014, a happy baby full of life and smiles. He began to walk at just 11 months old, and had great ball skills, he was able to kick and control where it was going. But when Emerson was 16 months old, he started to become unwell – his health deteriorated quickly. By the time he was 19 months old he could no longer stand unsupported.
After his parents sought medical advice an MRI showed an arachnoid cyst on the outer cover, or sheath, of his spinal cord from C6/7 to T2. Emerson had surgery to reduce the cyst and his parents were then told he would be paralysed from below C6/7 with an incomplete injury. Damage in this area impairs function from the neck down, including swallowing, speech and movement of the arms and hands. Unfortunately, the cyst returned in August 2017 and then again in October the same year.
Because of the high level of Emerson’s injury, he suffers from autonomic dysreflexia daily, a potentially life-threatening emergency which involves the sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure. Normally linked to his bladder and bowel management, it can be triggered by anything as simple as him playing on the floor with a toy or when a piece of clothing is too tight.