Myzat tears up her 'L plates' to get state-of-the-art new wheels

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Oriyomi-Olowolayemo (Myzat’s mother) (left), Rebecca Hindle (physiotherapist), Myzat Mugomba (centre) and Vicky Curling (Rehabilitation Engineer).

Five-year-old Myzat Mugomba is the first person in south London to get a hi-tech electric wheelchair that gives her the freedom to move around independently and the ability to keep up with her school friends.

The fibre optic-controlled electric wheelchair enables Myzat to move forwards, backwards, left and right simply by hovering her hand over the motion sensor. It has been supplied by the Bowley Close Rehabilitation Centre in Crystal Palace, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Myzat has spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and relies on a ventilator to help her breathe. She is unable to operate other wheelchairs, which use joysticks or switches controlled by areas of the body like the head or chin, because she has little muscle tone and no strength in her fingers or neck muscles.                  

Myzat, who lives in Peckham and attends Southwark Park Primary School, says: “My new ‘motorbike’ is fun. I want to go faster.”

Oriyomi-Olowolayemo, Myzat’s mother, says: “Before the electric wheelchair we always had to move Myzat around. She is a very brave girl and wants to do things for herself. Now she can drive wherever she wants to and she feels part of the family. When her three sisters are baking in the kitchen she’s already there, getting involved!”

The staff at Bowley Close carefully prepared Myzat, her family and the staff at her school to ensure her safe transition from a specially adapted buggy to the new electric wheelchair.

Myzat was helped to develop her driving skills at home by her therapists, and the rehabilitation engineer at Bowley Close. The driving practice has helped her to manoeuvre the wheelchair safely, particularly in small spaces at home and in crowded environments like the school playground.

Rebecca Hindle, who is Myzat’s physiotherapist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “Without this advanced technology, Myzat would need to be pushed around by an adult, directing them where she wants to go. Now Myzat can make choices for herself. This new wheelchair is like her legs.

“Like anyone learning to drive it takes time to develop the spatial awareness and the skills needed to be proficient. She has amazed us all by how quickly she has picked things up.”

The wheelchair service at the Bowley Close Rehabilitation Centre has supplied wheelchairs to 12,000 residents in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. The team there provide a range of standard and customised seating for both manual and powered wheelchairs. 

Last updated: March 2022

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