Easy access: How a home lift improved the life of new cerebral palsy charity founder after two hip operations in three years
A cerebral palsy sufferer from London has ‘transformed’ her life after installing a Stiltz Home Lift which enables her to move from floor to floor simply and easily at the touch of a button.
Emma Livingstone, 42, has learned to live with CP from a young age and, although it is not considered a degenerative condition by doctors, three years ago her ability to walk became extremely difficult. The stairs became a huge challenge for her and she found it difficult to even lift her leg up and over a pavement curb.
“I used to struggle down the stairs in the morning and then I would wait for my husband to come home from work before going up again so he could help me,” said Emma.
She was eventually diagnosed with hip dysplasia. This meant Emma’s hip socket did not fully cover the ball portion of her upper thighbone so her hip joint was partially dislocated – a condition she was born with caused by the CP.
After undergoing hip reconstruction on her right hip, she returned home and spent the majority of 2016 recovering in a makeshift bedroom in the kitchen. Then unfortunately, her left hip started to suffer from a similar problem, resulting in her having a hip replacement in April of this year.
Before the operation, Emma and her husband considered downsizing to a bungalow but with three children this proved hard. In the end, the couple decided to extend their property and buy a Stiltz Home Lift, which is the only freestanding domestic lift available on the market.
The family had the Stiltz Trio Classic Home Lift model – which can accommodate a standard-sized wheelchair – installed in a space off the kitchen where it plugs straight into a domestic power socket from a self-contained motor with the lift travelling up ‘through the floor’ on self-supporting rails to a first-floor landing area. With no hydraulics or load bearing walls required, the Stiltz team were able to install the Trio in less than a day with a simple hole in the ceiling all that was needed for the lift to be constructed and pass through between the floors.
Emma, who is still on crutches, said: “We decided to prepare in advance of my last op and looked at moving to a bungalow but it was never going to be easy finding a property that could accommodate five people and bungalows are difficult enough to find anyway.
“Then when you consider the cost of stamp duty and moving costs, in the end, we decided to extend their house for more space and install the Stiltz domestic lift which has transformed my life. It is not invasive, looks modern and provides me with easy access to the whole house. It is also great for transporting the washing and kids’ toys!”
Emma was diagnosed with ‘CP’ when she was two-years-old after her parents became concerned that there was a delay in her learning to walk. She underwent intensive physiotherapy up until adulthood, learned to walk and talk like other children and has, to all intents and purposes, led a normal life.
She trained to become a speech and language therapist and has been married to husband Derek for 11 years. They have three children, Natan, now 10, Libby, 8 and Callum, 4 and live in Barnet. But she is concerned there is no support network nor is there access to medical services for adults with Cerebral Palsy.
This concern has led her to setting up Adult Cerebral Palsy Hub as a registered charity alongside her physiotherapist Miriam Creeger, in order to raise awareness of adults that have the condition. A further aim of the charity is to support research and lobby for much-needed services.
Emma said: “Around 110,000 people are born with cerebral palsy in this country and it is one of the largest disabilities groups in the UK but there is no service provision for sufferers once they become adults.
“I was diagnosed with CP when I was 2 and had intense physio growing up. I’ve been able to live a reasonably normal life. People who don’t know me wouldn’t necessarily assume I had cerebral palsy as I’m on the lower end of the scale. But there are obviously adults who have the condition who are affected much more profoundly and we all need support; and there really is none available in the UK once you reach adulthood.
“After my experiences of the last few years with my hip operations, it became very clear to me that there are no bespoke services for adults with CP and this needs to change. For example, at one stage I was visiting a polio consultant because that was nearest thing to cerebral palsy!
“Most CP charities out there are for children but my concern is about when that person reaches 18 years of age – I think it is fair to say that they are effectively abandoned by the authorities.
“This has led Miriam and I to found Adult Cerebral Palsy Hub which we hope, initially, will act as a community for adults with CP and give them a voice. Our mission is to educate, campaign for change, support research and lobby for medical services.”