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Footballer Phil Neville speaks out about daughter's cerebral palsy

07/17/2007 at 07:06 PM ET

When his daughter Isabella was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy doctors told Phil Neville, a football player for England, that her chances of ever walking were less than one in two.  Undeterred, Phil and his wife Julie set out to give Isabella the most normal life possible.  After fitting her with a special brace and leg splints, the couple watched with delight as Isabella — now 3 — took her first unassisted steps on Christmas day, 2006. 

It was the best Christmas present ever.  At first we didn’t want to tell anyone in case it was a one-off.  But as the days went on she became more confident and started letting go of her walker more and more.

After they first became suspicious that Isabella was not developing normally, at around 18-months, Phil and Julie had their daughter evaluated.  Their worst fears were confirmed when, as Julie says she had suspected all along, Isabella was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  According to Phil the couple felt "completely shell-shocked and devastated."

We couldn’t bring ourselves to tell anyone other than close family and friends about Isabella’s condition.  We were heartbroken for our daughter.

Phil and Julie appear optimistic about Isabella’s quality of life now, and have already defied considerable odds with their daughter’s newfound mobility.  Seven months after taking her first steps Isabella is — quite literally — giving her older brother Harvey, 4, a run for his money, according to Phil.

Now some days she tells us she doesn’t need her walker and sets off running after her brother.

Source:  Daily Mail

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