A teenager who overcame a rare neurological disorder to learn how to walk again has been left paralysed for a second time after being hit by a car on the day of her final physio session.
Jade Almond, 16, was forced to complete a gruelling seven-month rehab programme after a bang to the head in July saw her diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND).
The condition had robbed her of her ability to walk, but the former Wigan Athletic Ladies goalkeeper was determined to undergo numerous private physio sessions at a cost of £14,500 to get her back on her feet.
Just three weeks ago, the teenager’s dreams came true as she was finally discharged from her treatment, with a video taken moments after her last appointment showing her excitedly running up and down stairs for the first time in nearly eight months.
However that night, a cruel twist of fate saw the car she was travelling in with her mother, sister and two friends ploughed into on the M60 as they made their way home.
The impact of the crash and another bang to the head as caused the symptoms of her FND to return worse than before, leaving her bed-bound with ‘the strength of a newborn baby’, partially paralysed and unable to sit up.
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Jade Almond (with her sister Jodie, left, halfway through her course of physio sessions) has been left paralysed after being hit by a car on the day she was discharged from her final appointment (shown in hospital after the crash, right)
Jade is pictured playing for Wigan Athletic Ladies youth team in the months before her fall in July 2018, which would leave her learning to walk
Jade once again faces an arduous rehabilitation process costing thousands of pounds in her bid to learn how to walk for the third time and have ‘a normal life’.
Her FND – in which her brain loses its ability communicate with body parts such as her legs – may have been brought on by the first bang to her head in May, however doctors admit that not much is known about the condition.
The teenager, from Abram in Greater Manchester, said: ‘It’s heartbreaking being in this position and knowing all that hard work has been undone.
‘I was pretty much back to normal – able to run, dance and play football again – I was 80 per cent there and only had a bit of a tremor in my leg.
‘After the car crash it’s worse than it’s ever been as now its affecting my whole body.’
The family claim the female driver of the other vehicle was leaning over and trying to pick up popcorn from the car floor when she ploughed into the back of them on February 21.
Footage from the day of the accident shows Jade excitedly running up stairs and jogging on a treadmill for the first time in seven months.
But during the drive home a car crashed into the back of them – the force of the impact causing Jade to bang her head twice as she was knocked about the vehicle.
Jade realised there was a problem when was unable to move her right armand her legs gave way as she tried to get out of the car.
Doctors diagnosed the youngster with functional neurological disorder in 2018, that left the teen (shown before her first fall, left) needing intensive privately-funded physio (shown right) costing thousands of pounds
Jade said: ‘On the day I was discharged from Sheffield we were all so happy.
‘That night I had a commercial and street dance class and was so excited to go for the first time in ages.
‘We had music on in the car, were singing along and just having a really good time.
‘I was talking to my friend when the crash happened and was facing left, I flew forward and banged my head and then again when we stopped.
‘I first noticed that the back of my friend’s head was bleeding. I went to hug her because she was so upset and my hand wouldn’t move, I was so confused.
‘My left arm was moving but when I tried to move my right arm it was just stuck.
‘I tried to stand up getting out of the car and I fell to the floor, my mum had to catch me.
Jade is shown excitedly climbing the stairs unaided on the day she was finally discharged by her physio. Hours later she would be in a car crash that would paralyse her
‘In hospital I was just sitting there and couldn’t move, my mum was tapping my leg but I couldn’t feel anything at all.
‘I was so scared and did panic because I’d never had those symptoms before.
‘I had an instinct it was an FND relapse, I’d never had those symptoms before so it was a huge shock.
‘You couldn’t make it up that on the day I left physio this happened.
‘It was heartbreaking knowing all the hard work had been undone because of popcorn; it’s crazy.’
Jade was initially treated at Salford Royal Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
Footage filmed since the accident shows how Jade is unable to sit up unaided and is forced to rely on mother Michelle to prop her up.
The impact of the car crash has left Jade (shown with her mother Michelle) bed bound with ‘the strength of a newborn baby’, partially paralysed and unable to sit up unaided
Jade said: ‘From the elbow down on my right arm is paralysed, I cant move or feel it at all.
‘Both my legs are really numb and weak and when I try to stand on them they just collapse.
‘My sitting balance has completely gone – my core and my neck are really weak – and I can’t sit straight.
‘It seems like I’ve lost all my strength, it’s like I’ve only got the strength of a baby.
‘It’s so frustrating not being able to move, all I want to do is get up and back to where I was or at least move instead of just lying in a bed all day.’
What is Functional Neurological Disorder?
Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is a disabling cause of neurological symptoms. People with FND can experience a wide variety of symptoms including:
- Weakness and abnormal patterns of movement (e.g. tremor, abnormal posturing of limbs, gait problems)
- Attacks of abnormal movement/change in awareness that resemble epileptic seizures
- Sensory problems
- Cognitive problems
- Visual and speech problems
While the symptoms may appear similar to neurological diseases including those of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Epilepsy, and can be just as disabling, they are not caused by structural disease of the nervous system, but instead are a problem with the ‘functioning’ of the nervous system.
People with FND appear to lose the ability to control or access their body normally. The ‘basic wiring’ of the nervous system is intact, but when people with FND try to use it to move, feel or think, they cannot get access to it normally.
The family have spent £14,500 on Jade’s original treatment and are now fundraising the cost of further treatment through GoFundMe that is needed after the crash.
Jade said: ‘I’m desperate to get back to physio because we’ve learnt that intensive rehab is the way forward for me.
‘It’s what I need but the only place that provides it is expensive, we’ve got the proof it works but it’s hard to get back to that.
‘We didn’t put up a GoFundMe at first because we didn’t want to ask for money. We didn’t want to feel like we were begging for money – it felt wrong.
‘It took a few months to pluck up the courage to put one together but when we did we got £500 in a few hours.
‘We were shocked at the number of people wanting to help. The number of people wanting to help has been amazing.
‘Treatment is expensive but it’s worth every penny – you can’t put a price on it.
‘The dream is to be able to go back to football, dancing and acting – I just want a normal life back.’
Former NHS worker Michelle, 41, said: ‘It’s heartbreaking seeing what she’s going through now after everything.
‘It was devastating seeing her go from a perfectly healthy girl and then go through what she did.
‘Her life was on hold for those seven months as she couldn’t go to college or do the things she loved such as football, acting and dancing.
‘Seeing her be able to run up stairs for the first time since it happened, go for a jog and dance again last month was absolutely amazing – it was the best feeling.
‘[On the day of the crash] traffic had gone to a complete standstill. The woman behind me was apparently picking up popcorn off the floor and careered into the back of us at what felt like 30-40mph.
‘Jade was in the back and had direct impact, it was awful.
‘For this to happen is heartbreaking but Jade has been so positive about it as she’s seen she can improve.’
You can donate to Jade’s rehab costs here: https://uk.gofundme.com/jades-rehibilitation