Alex Ray and his exhausted mum Sarah have enjoyed their first night of uninterrupted slumber thanks to a pioneering sleep system.
The five-year-old from Lascelles Hall was born three months prematurely and is profoundly disabled. His condition means he is unable to walk or talk and he is severely vision impaired. He also has severe epilepsy, scoliosis, and both hips are dislocated. He cannot sit up unaided and is tube-fed.
Alex’s complex needs means he rarely sleeps more than a few hours a night and despite mum Sarah searching everywhere for a mattress or sleep system that would suit him nothing worked.
Now British designers have stepped in to help, offering specialist equipment originally geared towards people with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The results, says a relieved Sarah, have been “amazing”.
Engineer Dane McGee attended local support groups across Yorkshire to work with clinicians, physios and families to see how his designs could assist people who, for medical reasons, couldn’t get comfortable.
His research led to him designing a system called the Comfier for Leeds-based Mobility with Dignity. The engineer says the concept came from his desire to give people with limited or no mobility the chance to sleep comfortably.
He said: “The Comfier was originally designed for people with MND and MS but after hearing Sarah and Alex’s story we just wanted to help,
“Our aim was always to enable people with limited mobility and complex care needs to regain independence and control so I’m delighted that it has helped them and has given both Alex and Sarah the sleep they so desperately needed. It’s heart-warming to hear just how much it has improved their lives.”
The Comfier system features a set of 10 large inflatable tubes that fit easily on top of Alex’s existing mattress. It allows Sarah to easily inflate and deflate them to suit his comfort and clinical preferences. Extra tubes under either side keep him straight, protected and in the same position throughout the night.
Sarah said: “Alex will settle almost straight away and he sleeps straight through the night uninterrupted, which was unheard of before.
“He is also having fewer seizures as a result of having more sleep and his physio has noticed he is a lot more relaxed in sessions, especially around his shoulders.”
She added: “At last I have peace of mind because I know Alex won’t slide down the bed, which was the main problem in the past. It has totally transformed our lives.”