‘Walking frame will extend Rihanna’s life’

Brian and Shona Johnstone with daughter Rhiana and son Larsson at home in Galashiels.
Brian and Shona Johnstone with daughter Rhiana and son Larsson at home in Galashiels.
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A Galashiels couple say they have been forced to apply to a charity for a desperately-needed piece of equipment for their five-year-old daughter.

Brian and Shona Johnstone’s daughter Rihanna was born premature and is a quadriplegic with a complex condition including cerebral palsy and chronic lung disease.

It is a life-limiting condition – and not many with it survive into their teens.

And one of the most important things that can be done to extend her life is to keep her moving so that she can exercise her muscles.

It will also give her a feeling of independence.

A physiotherapist recently recommended a walking frame, which she was able to try, and she was delighted to take her first few steps at her first attempt.

“However, there is no funding available locally for this equipment, so Rihanna’s parents turned to Newlife, a charity for disabled children, for help.

Shona said: “Rihanna will never be able to walk like a normal person, so we have had to go to Newlife.

“If Rihanna gets to be a teenager, we will be doing all right.

“It is important to keep her as mobile as possible to promote good digestion, circulation and breathing function and stop her muscles from wasting away.

“The walking aid will help her do this.

“The more we can keep her moving, the more we can help prolong her life.

“She is such a wee star, a real fighter with a great attitude that keeps her going.”

Last year, Shona suffered a stroke while giving birth to Rihanna’s baby brother, and it has left her paralysed down the right side of her body.

She said: “Brian has had to give up work, and he is basically caring for me as well as Rihanna.”

At the moment, Rihanna has to be manipulated to get her muscles moving, and Shona said: “She can move her limbs to a certain degree, but it must be really sore for her to be handled all the time.

“Getting the equipment through Newlife will make so much difference to her life.

“And the good thing is that if Rihanna outgrows the walker, the charity buys it back for £1 so it can be offered to another wee one, so their life can be changed as well.”

The couple are also in the process of applying to the charity for a stair-climber.

The walker Rihanna needs costs £2,388.

If you would like to support Rihanna in getting her equipment, visit www.
newlifecharity.co.uk/scottishborders and click on the donate button next to her story.