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Marten's story and his struggle with cerebral palsy
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Friday 28th September 2012

ABR treatment bound for Scotland!  

Thursday 27th September 2012


Marten was diagnosed as suffering from spastic cerebral palsy on 13th December 2011 - the day before his first birthday. The following video starts one month earlier in November 2011, at that stage Marten cried most of the time and found great dificulty sleeping. At the time we thought there was some gastro-intestinal problems (he had been diagnosed as lactose intolerant) so we were trying to relieve his obvious pain using tummy massage and warm packs - now we know that his pain was caused by the strong spastic contractions in his muscles. Listen to the comments that were made at the time and you'll get the feel of what life was like for Marten (and his parents).

Marten started ABR therapy in mid-January 2012. The second part of the video shows marten on holiday. Look at the relaxed positioning of his feet and hands; watch him examine his hands and feet and move his legs. Watch his face and you can actually see him realise that he is making them move himself! You will also see a bright and interested wee boy. One who is not in pain but starting to discover the world about him!

Tuesday 25th September 2012


Thursday 6th September witnessed Marten set out on his long journey to Hassalt in Belgium for a full assessment of his current condition and additional training for his parents. After driving down to Newcastle it was the overnight boat to Ijmuiden (just outside Amsterdam) then next morning a long drive down through Holland and into Flanders. Hassalt seemed to be a lovely town, but there was not really any time for sight-seeing.

Leonid Blyum was in town on the Friday and mum and dad wanted to take the opportunity of having Marten seen and assessed by the Russian inventor of the ABR therapy. Based on the nearly 800 photographs taken by Krista and her team when they were in Scotland, Leonid spent some two hours explaining the weaknesses caused by Marten's cerebral palsy and detailing what was to be expected as the treatment progressed. After a thorough examination the long and the short of it was that Marten had made enormous progress to the extent that his current exerises were all but abandoned and a new set were determined. Krista, who along with Maite had been across to Scotland to see Marten, was also delighted with his progress; she could see and feel the strengthening of his body which had taken place over a period of nearly 8 months, particularly the virtual disappearance of the rigid stiffness throughout his body which had been the main feature of Marten's condition in January 2012.

And there was further good news for Marten, his body core had strengthened to the extent that he would now be able to utilise the ABR machine. The ABR machine is basically a pump which inflates and deflates air bags whaich are padded and strapped to the patient (in this case Marten) on one of a number of pre-programmed settings. Whilst it is estimated that its effect is the equivalent of an average skilled ABR practitioner (i.e. a trained parent) its main benefit is that it can run up a lot of hours of therapy when the child is asleep.

Saturday 8th involved 10 hours of intensive training for mum and dad. A total of 6 new exercises were shown, trialled, photographed, documented and presented with mum and dad practising the movements of each other and the ABR trainer before being allowed to put a finger near Marten. Additional training was also given on how to set up the ABR machine and to use its settings.

Since arriving home Marten has settled reasonably well into his new ABR routine, particularly the ABR machine. Last week, the first full week of using the machine witnessed Marten's ABR therapy hours increase from a norm of 14 - 17 hours per week to 43.5 hours - a massive increase for little additional effort.

Mum and dad also had talks with the ABR Belgium team about bring the ABR treatment to Scotland - they made good progress which we hope to announce details of very soon. ABR Scotland - sounds good!


As regular readers of this site (and of Marten's Facebook page) will know, Marten has been seen by a whole arrangement of doctors and consultants over a long period of time. On Monday 17th September Marten visited his Gastro-intestinal consultant at Yorkhill Hospital. It was only this summer that Marten's abdominal areas became strengthened enough to allow him to eat dairy products. Now he enjoys a full range of dairy products on an almost daiy basis.

Marten's improvement in this area is so dramatic that he has now been discharged from the gastro-intestinal consultant's clinic as not requiring any further treatment; further evidence of the benefits that his ABR treatment is having. But there will be no let up in the strengthening of Marten's abdominal area - whilst the progress has been good enough to see Marten discharged from the NHS clinic in ABR terms he still has a long way to go before his body core is sufficiently strong to support his body weight and start to "normalise" his mobility.

Now Marten only has to see two consultants; his child development consultant at the RAH (Paisley) and his respiratory consultant at Yorkhill. Incidentally, his respiratory consultant had already commented in the much improved condition of the shape of Marten's chest - once more brought about by the non-invasive ABR therapy.


It's a sight that all parents of severely affected CP children want to see - their child being able to hold his / her own head up. Marten gave us a brief  insight into his improving ability to support his own head by holding it up this Saturday (22nd Sept) for just over 30 seconds (how we wish we had the cameras running)! It had been apparent for some time that Marten was gaining lateral control of his head (he now whips it from side to side at will) but his ability to support his own head's weight will be a much greater achievement. We know from his movements that this was not simply a straining of the muscles but evidence that the connective tissues within his neck had strengthened and developed, and as these tissues have strengthened and developed his neck (which was previously buried in his shoulders) has substantially grown. The independent movement of all areas of the body is a fundamental goal for all ABR practitioners as this independence brings with it lasting change and improved mobility.


On Saturday 8th December 2012 the Marten's Progress team are holding another fund-raising event to help pay for Marten's treatment. This time it's a Craft Fair, to be held at Kilbarchan Guide Centre, Barn Green, Kilbarchan from 11.00am until 3.00pm. 

Pamela and her sister Heather events organisers and are arranging a wide selection of stalls and goods - including a lot of childrens' events like face painting, kids caricatures, glitter tattoes, kids jewellery, baby exercise music and of course childrens' candies. Watch this space for more activities.


The girls (and guys) of the Kilbarchan Zumba Club have come up trumps for Marten - again! On Saturday 1st September Gemma McNaughton led a team of Zumba instructors in a 3 hours non-stop Zumba Party at Johnstone Town Hall. Instructors and participants came from across the west of Scotland and raised an amazing £1,200.00 on the day for Marten's Progress fund (with more to come in sponsorships).

Once again the thanks of the Marten's Progress team go to Gemma and the other instructors who gave up the time free of charge to raise funds for this very worthy cause. Indeed, Gemma and the girls are used to raising money for worthy charities having raised thousands of punds for Yorkhill Hospital's Radio Lollipop. Keep up the good work Gemma - your efforts are really appreciated.

* * * * *


The inventor

Leonid Blyum,

The central quest at the heart of ABR is the search for a ‘peacenick’s’ way of helping kids with Cerebral Palsy. For centuries and until the present day Cerebral Palsy has been treated by the ‘hawks’ – with forceful interventions such as stretching, splints, casts, poison injections, surgery… all the while without much progress to show for those invasive and harsh interventions.

I deeply and passionately disagree with the ‘hawkish’ approach. I find the ‘hawkish’ tunnel vision of ‘fighting against’ the perceived enemies: spasticity, contractures, deformities etc. – being fundamentally flawed because it completely misses out on addressing weaknesses and deficiencies.

My motto in Cerebral Palsy is very simple: “Stop fighting – start building” – and do it as passionately and with as much determination as when you were fighting”. ABR is a ‘peacenick’s’ way for children with Cerebral Palsy where the techniques are non-invasive and aimed at building new strengths and abilities. Sure enough, the peacenick way in Cerebral Palsy is not for everyone – it takes patience, determination, attention to detail and, first and foremost, a firm conviction in saying an unambiguous “No” to using brute force on your child. However, for those who make the peacenick’s choice– it’s well worth it. It’s really inspiring to see how thanks to ABR and the work of parents the life of a quadriplegic child transforms from struggling and suffering to being happy and thriving…’