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Cwmbran boy battling chronic pain swims to raise cash

11:20am Saturday 21st July 2012 in NewsBy Andy Rutherford – Health correspondent


MAKING PROGRESS: Lewis Perham, nine, with brother Leo, seven, and parents Claire and Iestyn
MAKING PROGRESS: Lewis Perham, nine, with brother Leo, seven, and parents Claire and Iestyn


UNTIL a few weeks ago, Lewis Perham could not bear to feel water on his legs and feet.

But now the nine-year-old from Cwmbran, who has Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), has completed a sponsored swim in aid of the hospital that is treating him.

Lewis gritted his teeth to complete a one kilometre swim at Llantarnam leisure centre, an effort that has so far raised more than £1,600 for the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, in Bath.

His health problems began last May with a slight knock on the ankles while playing rugby, which triggered a gradual physical reaction leaving his lower limbs so sensitive that more than a year on, he still cannot bear the weight of his bedclothes.

He has been wheelchair-bound since last August, and although he can now bear to touch his toes and has resumed swimming, he remains prone to excruciating pain in his legs, ankles and feet, caused by knocks, pressure or even wind and rain. Temperature changes are also a problem.

CRPS brings neuropathic pain, caused by nerve problems. Why or how it starts remains a mystery, though a simple injury like a sprained ankle can trigger it, even without nerve damage.

Incidence estimates vary from one-in-4,000 to one-in-18,000, but it is rare in children. Lewis is believed to be Wales’ youngest CRPS patient.

“We were lucky, we got a diagnosis pretty quickly. Some people wait years and the damage is harder to treat,” said Lewis’s mum Claire.

“Treatment was arranged at Bath, a specialist centre for CRPS, and he’s had two week-long stays.

“A lot of it is touch therapy, getting limbs moving, and there’s a lot of psychological input, to help cope with the pain.”

Further sessions have been postponed by administration delays with specialist NHS funding, but Mrs Perham said they have made a big difference.

“This will take a long time to treat, and he might not get back to how he was,” she said.

“He’s been very down, but he’s much more positive at the moment, because he can see the progress.

“He can bear to touch his toes, there’s more movement, and he’s thinking about things like swimming again.”



Click here to read the full article at the original site online.







  1. While these strategies are fairly straightforward, the all-encompassing pain of CRPS has led some patients to seek extreme treatments. Dr. Robert Schwartzman induces a coma in CRPS patients by administering a heavy dose of the anesthetic ketamine. The patient remains unconscious for five to seven days, with the hope that during this time her pain sensors will essentially reset themselves. Since it is considered risky and highly experimental, Schwartzman conducts the procedure outside the U.S. in Germany. Both Oaklander and Weisman have major reservations about the treatment.

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