An eight-year-old girl who lost a leg in a freak accident is learning to dance again thanks to the work of prosthetists at Morriston Hospital.
Alys injured her leg so severely following a collision with a lawnmower at the family home that it needed amputation below the knee.
Two weeks before the accident the keen dancer from Ammanford was competing in the Urdd Eisteddfod, and had been chosen to represent Wales in a dance exhibition in Los Angeles.
And despite sustaining the life-changing injury, she was back dancing alongside her friends after just ten weeks, having received a prosthetic leg from the Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre at Morriston.
Advanced prosthetist Paul Drayton said: “Alys attended Swansea Artificial Limb and Appliance Service (ALAS) in the weeks following her the accident, which is where I became involved in her care.
“We began her early rehabilitation program which involved physiotherapy with the physios and her prosthetist, and she continued to have weekly physiotherapy input to encourage improvement of the knee and hip and also maintaining strength globally”
“By mid-August Alys was ready for her first prosthesis, which she took to exceptionally quickly. She was soon using it in school as well as her dance class.
“Getting back to dancing was really important for Alys so we needed to learn some of her dance moves to help her to achieve her goals; she got me doing the Macarena at the Centre.
“Alys has been coping remarkably well. She’s back to doing the things she loves which is great to see”.
ALAS physio Jess Hughes added: “Being around Alys has kept me fit! We were doing lots of stepping exercises when we started, and she was more flexible than I was. She has been fantastic”.
Since receiving her first prosthetic leg, Alys has returned to ALAS to be fitted with a specialist sports blade, which will allow her to take part in sporting activities more easily.
The blade has been made available thanks to the Welsh Health Specialist Services Committee, NHS Wales and Welsh Government funding, which provides recreational and sports limbs to children and young people who may have been previously restricted to standard prosthetic limbs, enabling them to become more active and involved in physical activity.
It also helps to build strength, endurance, and self-confidence.
Paul Drayton said: “At Swansea ALAS we have embraced this policy and have provided a range of different sports prostheses to help children and young people to participate in sports and hobbies that they previously were unable to participate in.
“People in Alys’ situation who are more active tend to get more out of having a blade, and it helps keep them fit and healthy. She is still growing so over time she will have to have different blades fitted”.
Alys’ mum Nia said: “Before the accident we obviously didn’t know anything about what was available to her.
“We first came to A&E and then the high-dependency unit, and then to ALAS and met the whole team and everyone made us feel at ease - they have been amazing. The team has been giving her challenges and charting her progress, and giving her goals to aim for.
“She even said she enjoyed her time in hospital because everyone was so friendly. Everybody has been looking after wellbeing and they’ve been so helpful”.
Alys added: “At the start I felt totally different but as time went on, I was getting better and I felt more like the normal kids.
“Now I feel like a normal kid but just with a different leg.”
Alys’ story is the subject of a S4C documentary which is due to be broadcast later this year