Marellis’ Story

Marellis was 13 when he suffered paralysis and a cardiac arrest following a major spinal stroke. Funding from The Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation and the Rooprai Spinal Trust enabled his family to access The Rehab Physio's specialist intensive rehabilitation services to explore his full potential..
“Focus on what’s possible and think about the future.  Keep the bad stuff out of your head and just keep the good stuff in it because that gets you better.  I try to be very positive, always thinking of what I can do next.  I like making games so I need to get better so I can use my arms to make more games.”


Marellis was 13 when he suffered paralysis and a cardiac arrest following a major spinal stroke but after waking up from an induced coma and 4 months on ventilation in hospital, he started to make small movements with his arms and legs.

Funding from The Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation and the Rooprai Spinal Trust meant that Marellis was able to access the essential specialist intensive rehabilitation needed at The Rehab Physio to allow him to start exploring his mobility and help him engage in recreational activity.


Marellis’ Condition

Thirteen year old Marellis was staying at his Nan’s house and exercising in the garden when he began to feel unwell. He couldn’t feel his hands and feet and was experiencing pain all over his body.

An ambulance was called but unfortunately the call was not registered as a category one so it took a while to arrive, by which time Marellis’ breathing was intermittent and his heart rate had dropped dangerously low due to lack of oxygen.  By the time he arrived at hospital, his heart was beating at 3 beats per minute so he needed to be defibrillated.  His mum was taken into a room at the hospital and told to prepare for the worse.

After 4 days in an induced coma, Marellis’ parents were told that he had suffered a major spinal stroke.  He was unable to speak when he was woken up, as he had a tube down his throat, so his family used cue cards and other means of communication to find out what he needed.

The chances of surviving Marellis’ injuries and cardiac arrest are very slim but after 4 months of ventilation in hospital, he began to make small movements with his legs.


Funding from two of The Rehab Physio’s charitable partners, Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation and the Rooprai Spinal Trust meant that Marellis could access the specialist intensive rehabilitation that he needed to explore his full potential.

Co-Founder of The Rooprai Spinal Trust, Andrew Uttridge comments:We’re aware first-hand the devastation paralysis can bring. It’s a life-long battle for the mind, not just the body. The Rehab Physio’s clinic offers cutting edge technology and a wealth of experience to help individuals like Marellis strive for goals and move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, funding is an issue for many and that’s where we come in. We provide the opportunity via our scholarship programme to help motivated beneficiaries like Marellis explore their potential”

One of Marellis’ main challenges has been his spasticity and rigidity. The Rehab Physio’s robotic gait trainer, LEXO, allowed him to work on moving his legs apart from each other, whilst bearing weight for the first time and as a result, he started to take steps and walk around clinic with the assistance of a walking frame.

Using the DIEGO upper body robotics equipment, Marellis was able to disassociate his arms from his trunk, using the de-weighting system to make his arms lighter and ease the effort of the task. On both pieces, Marellis enjoyed the meaningful outcomes that he could produce on the software, making tasks achievable in a virtual world, which would not be possible in the real world.

Marellis received hands-on manual physiotherapy treatment too, to ease the movement in his arms, legs and trunk.


Where is he now?

Fortunately, Marellis is a very head-strong and independent person.  His mum believes that his strength of mind has helped him to get through the experience, most of which he fortunately doesn’t remember.

As a young teenager, this attitude has been crucial, not just for Marellis’ physical condition but also to restore his confidence.  He is slowly coming out of his shell and starting to embrace life again.

Marellis has experienced many bumps in the road during his rehabilitation and has ongoing health issues to deal with, so he has had to take breaks from his treatment programme. That said, he battles incredibly hard with the ultimate aim of becoming mobile again. If it were not for the increased opportunity to move and rehabilitate at The Rehab Physio, he certainly wouldn’t have made as much progress in his recovery journey.

Both the Rooprai Spinal Trust and The Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation are now focused on creating opportunities for as many people as possible to access life-changing physiotherapy and rehabilitation.


A final word from Chris, our Founder….

“Marellis’ story really demonstrates my mantra of ‘you’re only as good as your opportunity to explore your true rehabilitation potential’. That opportunity can be improved and affected by so many factors, ie. energy, pain & support levels but also funding too.

Many people don’t have the financial means to fund intensive rehabilitation, so our partnerships and support from the charitable sector are crucial, and mean so much for the people who come to The Rehab Phsyio.

The positive impact of being treated in a setting where patients can meet others who are going through similar experiences, and be inspired by the progress that they’ve made, cannot be underestimated.”

Find out more about our intensive rehabilitation programme or visit the Rooprai Spinal Trust or Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation websites for further information about their work.

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