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Rúben’s story: From the Eye Department to Child Development and Neurodisability

Ruben Couto
06 May 2021

Hello Rúben!

Two year old Rúben is no stranger to Sheffield Children’s. He first visited as a baby after being born ten weeks prematurely in Lincolnshire.

Originally Rúben was brought in by ambulance because of a suspected retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which is when the retinal blood vessels don’t develop properly in babies due to them being born earlier than expected. In the Eye Department at Sheffield Children’s though, mum Catia was reassured.

She said: “The nurses and doctors were amazing and reassured us that he had haematomas – an area of blood that collects outside of the larger blood vessels – and this happened because of trauma from birth and prematurity but these should go on their own.”

Since then, Rúben attends follow up appointments every year at the Eye Department but he also visits other areas of Sheffield Children’s too.Ruben Couto plaster room

Catia said: “Rúben was also diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy (quadriplegia) and because we liked the way Rúben was cared for so much, we requested that Sheffield Children’s take over his care.”

Having spastic cerebral palsy means that Rúben’s muscles are stiff and tight, which can make movement difficult and reduce the range of movement that is possible. Quadriplegia means that all four limbs are affected by this.

Our Child Development and Neurodisability Team have expertise in the assessment, diagnosis and management of cerebral palsy. We work with children and their families from Sheffield and beyond to deliver therapy that maximises potential and minimises functional disability.

Catia added: “We now see a neurologist, orthopaedic surgeons and the Orthotics team as part of Rúben’s care.”

At their most recent appointment Rúben and Catia spent time in the Plaster Clinic so he could have an Ankle Foot Orthosis brace fitted. This brace can support weak limbs or they can also be used to immobilise the ankle and lower leg to correct foot drop.

To keep patients like Rúben, their families and our own staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheffield Children’s made a number of changes. This includes wearing face masks, extra hand cleaning facilities, installing clear screens and spacing out seating to allow everyone to socially distance safely.

Catia said: “We have visited Sheffield Children’s multiple times since the start of COVID-19 and the measures that have been put in place makes us feel safe and at ease. Any hospital can be a bit overwhelming and a stressful environment for anyone, especially for children, but we feel that Sheffield Children’s has a very welcoming environment.”

“All the staff are so friendly and always interact with Rúben when he is a little upset. We can’t thank you all enough.”

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