A year after life-changing injury 12-year-old is back to baking at Christmas

A 12-year-old from Chichester is looking forward to baking at Christmas with her nan following rehab from a life-changing spinal cord injury.

The idea of Scarlett Griffin baking in the kitchen was something her family couldn’t have imagined in December 2020, just three months after her injury.

“This Christmas is going to be so different,” explained her dad Michael.

In September 2020 over 48 hours Scarlett went from being lively and active to lying sedated in a hospital bed not knowing what was going on.

Scarlett celebrating her 12th birthday.

She was rushed to hospital and they detected a ruptured cavernoma on Scarlett’s spine. A cavernoma is an abnormal group of raspberry-shaped blood vessels which can appear in the brain or attached to the spinal cord. It is a rare condition, especially in one so young as Scarlett.

Michael said: “That evening, only 24 hours after Scarlett first felt unwell, a specialist called Sara and me to say they had to operate immediately, or Scarlett could die.”

The operation took between four to five hours.

“It was the middle of the Covid lockdown – only one of us could be with her. It was horrendous and terrifying for a ten-year old,” said Michael.

Scarlett at Neurokinex practicing steps

Four weeks at St George’s Hospital in Tooting was followed by a place at Stanmore, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, for a further ten weeks where Scarlett learned how to live her life in a wheelchair.

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Once Scarlett came home it became clear she needed more help. Regular weekly physio sessions weren’t addressing her very individual needs. Michael trawled the internet and was preparing himself and his family for having to go to the United States, as this seemed to be the only place offering ground-breaking spinal cord rehabilitation. Then he found Neurokinex - a specialist spinal cord injury rehabilitation facility near Gatwick airport. Scarlett attends Neurokinex three times each week.

Her injury affected the whole family. She is the middle of five children, and their house in London was not suitable for Scarlett once she left hospital, so the family moved to Chichester.

While Scarlett’s journey has only just started, she’s looking forward to celebrating Christmas.

“I am really excited to be able to help my nan make a Christmas cake this year,” said Scarlett.

“This is something that I didn’t think I would be able to do again but Neurokinex has helped me build my strength and stability to make feel confident enough to help my nan in the kitchen.”