DISABILITIES

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By Daniel J. Vance


This time of year is for miracles. And 49-year-old Claudine Lanoix-Fox of Montreal, Canada, has one to share.

In 1995, she learned her twin, 18-month-old boys, Mathieu and Michel, were legally blind and had cerebral palsy. The latter was caused by brain damage at birth that affected the boys' abilities to control muscle movement. They were born premature at 27 weeks and in intensive care four months.

Said Lanoix-Fox in a telephone interview: “I was devastated. For me, it felt like the hand of God had reached down into my chest and ripped out my soul.” It was the week before Christmas, she said, and she had visions of spending all her life in a hospital or at home caring for the twins.

At 3, Mathieu, who had a brain hemorrhage, was using a walker inside and wheelchair outside. Michel couldn't sit up or feed himself and barely spoke. That year, Claudine learned through an Internet friend about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which employs a pressure chamber to greatly increase the amount of oxygen available for healing tissue and organs.

For therapy, they had to travel to Bedford, England. Within a month of the boys having regular treatments, a miracle seemed to occur.

Said Lanoix-Fox, “Afterwards, Mathieu walked without assistance, had better balance, coordination, and endurance, and cognitively processed information faster. Michel sat up by himself, his muscles became much less spastic, and he could use his arms and legs, and grasp his cup.”

Their amazing story was fully documented by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Though unable to cure disabilities like cerebral palsy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can offer a better quality of life in some people with disabilities by reducing the level of disability, she said.

Today, at 16, and following years of therapy in Canada, Mathieu walks without assistance and now has regular high school classes after years of special education. Michel, though a quadriplegic, can dress himself, make small meals, use a computer, and do personal grooming.

Excited about the results and potential for helping others, in 2004 Lanoix-Fox and husband began the low-cost Island Hyperbaric Centre near Montreal and over the years have treated hundreds of people, especially children with autism and cerebral palsy. They help injured adults and Gulf War veterans, too.

Said Lanoix-Fox to parents of children with disabilities: “Never give up hope. And as little hope as you have, work with it.”

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