Aussie teen loses the ability to move, except when sleeping

Sydney teenager Chelsea Speirs is suffering from a neurological disorder. She is immobile except when she is sleeping.

A "carefree" Sydney teenager with exciting plans for the future and her whole life ahead of her is now hospital-bound, voiceless and only able to move her fingers.

Disaster struck when Hornsby teenager Chelsea Speirs developed gastro in Year 10, while attending school with dreams of studying astrophysics at university.

The gastro however "turned into" Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), something her family had never heard of. The condition first took away control of her legs and later her "beautiful voice". Then in what was "by far the greatest challenge", the 17-year-old's condition deteriorated further in February of this year.

A photo of Sydney local Chelsea Speirs, 17, before being diagnosed with Functional neurological disorder last year and has gradually lost the ability to move her body since then. A photo of Chelsea in hospital after being diagnosed.
Sydney teen Chelsea Speirs, 17, was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder last year and has gradually lost the ability to move her body since then. Source: GoFundMe

"For the first time, Chelsea was scared about what was happening to her body and her lack of control. There were lots of tears, hugs and very much a feeling of helplessness," her mum Meredith Speirs said on a GoFundMe page.

Sydney teen can move her body in her sleep

Despite being immobile during the day, Chelsea's is able to move her body in her sleep. "Watching her confined to a bed each day, yet moving both her arms and legs in her sleep is just heartbreaking," Ms Speirs said.

"Last night, I saw her pull the cover over herself. But then, the movement starts to slow as she gets into a lighter sleep," she told 9News.

A photo of Chelsea using her phone. Another photo of Chelsea in bed with her dog.
Chelsea is only able to move her fingers and communicates through her phone. Source: GoFundMe

Family wants to bring Chelsea home

On May 25, Chelsea was released from hospital after 96 days, so that she could be home for her birthday.

"For the moment we are just enjoying being a family again and Chelsea is loving having the dogs around," her mum said.

However the family hope to have her home for good where she'll need 24/7 medical care and proper equipment including an adjustable hospital bed and a tilting wheelchair — something they are not able to financially provide for her.

"I don't doubt that the hospital runs a great rehab program but when you add Autism and ADHD to the FND diagnosis, I don't believe they fully grasp the challenges that Chelsea faces," Ms Speirs said. Currently, $13,350 out of the $15,000 goal has been raised.

For the moment though, Chelsea is able to continue her long distance education from the hospital and the family are taking it one step at a time. "She is still wanting to do astrophysics at university. So I'm like, 'Okay, go for your life and I'll just support you and do whatever I can behind the scenes to help you get there,'" she told 9 News.

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