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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Surgery helps girl bent backwards
A 10-year-old girl from Sussex has had a pioneering life changing operation after she developed a rare condition that meant she was bent over backwards.

Natasha Young, from Haywards Heath, used to enjoy horse riding and skiing until 18 months ago when she began suffering from dystonia.

The condition causes severe muscle spasms and forced her back to curl backwards, leaving her bed-ridden.

Now, after an operation in France, she is able to sit up and look forwards.

The whole world was at the wrong angle
David Young, father
Natasha is being treated in Montpellier by surgeon Professor Philippe Coubes, who has pioneered a technique for tackling the condition by implanting electrodes in the brain.

Pulses from the electrodes target the parts sending out the incorrect messages and "switch them off".

Her parents, Allie, 43, and David, 44, took her to France after consultant Dr Jean-Pierre Lin, at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, recommended Mr Coubes' treatment.

He described Natasha as "one of the most severely affected children" that he had ever seen, and explained that the electrical process would allow her to function as near normal as possible.

Mr Young said her treatment had been incredible.

DVDs and games

He said previously she could not lie on her back and "the whole world was at the wrong angle".

"She now spends most of her time lying on her back which means that we can elevate the bed so she can sit up and watch DVDs and play games.

"She can also sit at a table, something she hasn't done since last year," he said.

Doctors are now working towards Natasha being able to stand, and eventually walk.

Mr Young is planning to return to England with his wife and daughter this weekend.

Natasha's story is being shown on BBC One's City Hospital on Wednesday at 1000 BST.




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