Special suit gives Max giant strides

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS - By Keith An­der­son

Young Max Shear­man – he’s just six years old – is now mak­ing some giant strides.

For most young­sters of that age walk­ing 50 steps unas­sisted is small fry but for Max, who has cere­bral palsy, and his par­ents Mick and Clare it was some­thing that seemed out of reach only a few months ago.

The big steps are thanks to a Ther­aSuit Max wears and in­ten­sive ther­apy ses­sions.

Mick, a po­lice­man on the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, and Claire, both orig­i­nally from War­ragul, have been amazed by the progress. But it hasn’t come cheaply. Mick’s fa­ther Max, who still lives in War­ragul, said it costs $30,000 a year to use the suit and un­dergo the ther­apy.

A reg­is­tered char­ity, “Max on a Mis­sion”, has been es­tab­lished and a Facebook site of that name created to raise funds to en­able 14 other chil­dren to un­dergo the treat­ment for 12 months.

The idea is to prove to govern­ment that the special suits and in­ten­sive ther­apy work.

The char­ity has set a tar­get of $450,000 to en­able 15 chil­dren to have the treat­ment as a trial mon­i­tored by Monash Uni­ver­sity and es­tab­lish that on­go­ing treat­ment should be funded through the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Scheme (NDIS). How­ever, as Max se­nior points out, the treat­ment needs to con­tinue un­til the chil­dren have fin­ished grow­ing in about their late teens.

Through a num­ber of fund-rais­ers and phil­an­thropic do­na­tions about $100,000 has been con­trib­uted to date to­wards the cost of the trial.

In just a mat­ter of months the hori­zons of young Max’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties have opened enor­mously.

He can now ride a bike and last month amaz­ingly ac­com­pa­nied his fa­ther on a trek of the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea.

It was as big a test for fa­ther Mike as it prob­a­bly was for Max.

For eight days Mike car­ried Max in a mod­i­fied “arm­chair back­pack” as well as the special mo­bil­ity aid Max uses to get around.

They walked as part of an or­gan­ised tour group with some of the high­lights for Max be­ing play­ing with chil­dren at vil­lages where they stopped along the way.

There are many chal­lenges still ahead for Max and other chil­dren with cere­bral palsy but if they can get the treat­ment Max is un­der­go­ing cov­ered by the NDIS they’ll be much bet­ter placed to cope with or con­quer them.

To help fund the Ther­aSuit trial text MAX to 0437 371 371 and fol­low the prompts.

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