Freedom for 'locked-in' Kingsbridge teen thanks to special car
A teenager who is trapped in his own body and unable to speak or move has attracted support from his South Devon community which has raised funds to help him cope with his condition.
Howard Wicks suffered a devastating brain stem stroke in October 2011 when he was 16, leaving him with a condition known as locked-in syndrome.
The teenager went from being a keen footballer and student at Kingsbridge Community College to having to communicate via a special computer that interprets his eye movements.
Since suffering his stroke, Howard has regained some movement in his legs and fingers and strength in his head, neck and mouth.
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The youngster's determination so impressed his community they took it upon themselves to embark on a series of fundraising events to help Howard and his family.
All their hard work came to fruition earlier this month when Howard was presented with his own specially adapted vehicle at the Neuro Rehab Unit, Waters Park House, Plymouth, where he currently lives.
Howard and his family were overwhelmed with the new car and sent out a "massive thank you" to all the fundraisers saying it would give Howard "a whole new freedom, a whole new way of life".
Although he can't participate in the normal activities of someone his age, Howard's latest project is to write a book.
The process will involve extensive use of his special computer in which an onscreen keyboard is activated by Howard holding his gaze on letters for a certain amount of time.
The 'Eyegaze' also has a facility to speak out what Howard types using his eyes.
A website dedicated to the teenager, Hope for Howard, which gave people outside the community access to his story also led to a small group of people establishing The Howard Wicks Trust.
The group's aim is to create a better life experience for the youngster, taking advantage of new advances in medical science.
The trust hopes to have enough funds to purchase anything that would benefit Howard, with the belief that in years to come a medical innovation will be available to "rewire" Howard's brain and enable him to be physicallyactive again.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: "We are now fortunate enough, thanks to the trust, to have the financial backing to take advantage of any such scientific developments."
For information on how to donate to the Howard Wicks Trust please contact Jo Sly on email@example.com or Jezz Sly on firstname.lastname@example.org.