Bewdley couple hope to raise awareness of neurological condition

Kidderminster Shuttle: PROGRESSING SLOWLY: Mary and Michael Riggs. PROGRESSING SLOWLY: Mary and Michael Riggs.

A BEWDLEY former piano teacher whose life has been turned upside down by a little-known neurological condition is hoping to raise awareness of the only charity supporting people that are affected with it.

Mary Riggs, 72, suffers from Cortico Basal Degeneration (CBD), a condition that is directly affects the brain’s surface and causes symptoms including the lose of use in one hand, jerking or slowness of the fingers and disturbed eye movements.

She and her husband Michael Riggs, 74, have been attending group meetings organised by the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) Association which have helped them realise they are not alone.

PSP is closely related to CBD and the association, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is the only charity providing advice, information and support to people affected by the conditions.

Mr Riggs, a former lecturer, said: "I didn’t know exactly was CBD was. I was vaguely aware of PSP after it was made known by Dudley Moore (the actor who died from PSP) but I had heard nothing about CBD so it doesn’t surprise me that it took over two and a half years to reach the CBD diagnosis.”

The couple recently moved from Oxfordshire to Bewdley, where Mrs Riggs is originally from, to look after her mother Ruth, 98 who was suffering from dementia.

Mr Riggs added: "It was our consultant neurologist who is quite heavily involved with PSP who told us about the PSP Association and the support that was available to us."

At the meeting, the couple were introduced to Peter Daniels, a specialist care adviser for the PSP Association.

“He was brilliant in getting support for Mary," added Mr Riggs. "He gave our GP in Worcestershire a leaflet containing information about PSP and CBD for which they were grateful as they were unfamiliar with the conditions. He also helped in getting Mary physiotherapy which was a relief."

The couple are now planning to move again to be closer to their two children and have bought a bungalow which they are adapting to cater for Mrs Riggs' needs.

“We are looking forward to moving, it will be nice to be settled,” added Mr Riggs. “A lot of the decisions we are making for the new house is dependent on Mary and her progression.

"CBD is proving difficult for Mary to come to terms with, especially as she watches her only grandchild and knows she can’t be the grandmother she wants to be.

“She gets embarrassed that she struggles to eat by herself, she will often spill something or need assistance.

“She feels she is not up to par socially. We are lucky in that the condition is progressing slowly, it gives us the opportunity to evolve strategies to cope."

For more information on the condition visit pspassociation.org.uk or call 0300 0110 122

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