She and her mother used to go on long walks at Bedok Reservoir.
Now, seven-year-old Qatrina Yusri needs a walker and sometimes a wheelchair to move about.
She was diagnosed with a rare disease called Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) in April. It is an inherited neurological condition that causes the patient’s legs to become stiff and weak.
In Qatrina’s case, the disease has also made her incapable of controlling her bladder.
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Madam Herlina Salamat, 37, first noticed her daughter walking more slowly than her peers in her primary school at the start of the year.
Qatrina, the third of four children, would also walk with her feet turned in – known as intoeing.
“We were once told by a doctor that intoeing is a common condition and it would disappear when she grows up,” Madam Herlina, a personal assistant, told The New Paper at the family’s flat in Tampines.
The diagnosis of HSP came about almost by chance. After a routine height and weight check-up in school in February, the 100cm-tall Qatrina was referred to the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to have her height re-measured and to see a doctor.
But the family postponed the appointment. By April, she was walking less and less because her leg muscles had become stiff. Her family had to push her around in a stroller.
“We thought she was just being lazy,” said Madam Herlina. “At one point, we thought she was grieving for my mother, who died last year.”