JUST months after her life changing operation, Crosskeys youngster, Maisie Cooper, has taken her first steps towards independence.

Three months after her selective dorsal rhizotomy operation in America, three-year-old Maisie Cooper has taken her first unaided steps.

After a whirlwind year of fundraising by her parents, Maisie returned to the UK from America after having the surgery on February 4. The operation and physiotherapy cost £60,000.

Born 11 weeks early, Maisie, who weighed just 2lbs 14oz at birth, has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy – a condition which means her muscles tense up too much and she struggles with simple tasks like sitting up and standing up.

Maisie travelled to St Louis Children’s Hospital on January 30 to undergo the SDR operation by one of the best neurosurgeons in the US, Dr TS Park, to decrease the tightness in her muscles in the hope that with intensive physiotherapy, she will be able to walk unaided.

Following the operation it was predicted that Maisie could walk independently in the next six to 12 months.

But Maisie has far surpassed that prediction and just three months later she has taken her first steps.

Speaking from NP Fitness Centre in Perth, Scotland, where Maisie was undergoing intensive periods of phsyiotherapy, her father Gareth Cooper was amazed by his daughter’s progress.

“She has done really well,” he said.

“She is undergoing strength and conditioning treatment at NP Fitness in Scotland and since being there she has started making some independent steps.

“It is amazing – it wasn’t what we were expecting.”

Since the operation, Maisie has been receiving NHS and private physio treatment up to four hours a week and has been using her Kaye Walker and walking sticks to help her mobility.

She has been using her Kaye Walker and walking sticks but she hasn’t been doing very well on them.

“I think she finds the co-ordination difficult,” Mr Cooper added.

“When we went up to Perth for her first session of Monday as part of 10 hours of treatment over the course of the week, we were seeing how she was using the sticks and wasn’t getting it, and wondered whether she could go straight from using the Kaye Walker to taking independent steps.

“So we put some chocolate in front of her and that was it – she was just focused on getting the chocolate.”

Mr Cooper said they would now try to build up the distance and get her sitting and standing.

“That will be the key part,” he said.

“When we get home we will try to incorporate it in to day to day life.

“She has progressed a lot quicker than we were expecting.

“It is amazing that she has done so well.

“We can now imagine how much of a barrier that spasticity must have been for her because we have seen how she has just sprung into action.

“Being in an environment where she has been pushed like this will hold her up when she is older.

“She will probably always need a bit of support because even though the operation eliminates he spasticity the child will always have cerebral palsy.

“In the next few weeks we hope and pray that she continues with the progress as time goes by.”