Home Runs for Life: Learning to Walk Again
Andrew Haut, who suffered two devastating strokes by the time he was 12 years old, was doing something his therapists had never seen him do before.
And, he seemed to be showing off to visitors in the process.
“Usually we put a thera-band around his feet to improve the coordination of steps between his legs and feet,’’ explained Genesis physical therapist Liz Arp. “With the thera-band, we can control the excessive movement of Andrew’s feet and encourage better weight shifting.
“This is very cool. We’ve never seen him do this. He’s showing off for you.’’
Haut, who went nearly 15 years being able to move his body only by crawling on his hands and knees, was taking quick laps of 140 feet at Genesis Physical Therapy, Valley Fair, behind a walker but without the thera-band.
Without the tight banding to coordinate his gait, he lifted one foot high and dropped it on the surface. Then the other. It seemed like it took a minute or so to get started. Then he just started rolling with a walker.
He walked three times around the room after already going two times around with the banding just moments before.
When he started Genesis physical therapy two years ago after a surgery, two therapists picked up his feet, one after the other, and moved them manually forward to help him move. Andrew’s chart from June 15, 2015, said he moved 35 feet only with the assistance of two therapists.
He is now up to several hundred feet with very limited assistance.
Andrew explains that he had a heart defect at a young age that resulted in clotting.
“I had a thrombosis,’’ he said.
Clots Caused Strokes
Clots moved to his brain, causing the strokes at 7 and 10 years old. He stopped walking at age 13 and is 29 now.
After Andrew could no longer walk, he began to develop a clubbed foot from the intense spasticity in his legs. He soon lost the ability to stand.
Fast forward 14 years to 2014 when Andrew decided he wanted the ability to stand again. He underwent surgery to correct his foot deformity on Dec. 31, 2014 and started therapy at Genesis in March 2015.
Within the first few months of rehab, his therapists came up with the thera-band idea. They tried different strengths of bands before having some success with a tighter band.
“The band controls the spasticity in his legs,’’ Arp said. “We just kind of discovered it. There was nothing out there but now we’ve found a local orthotist who is working on a device for Andrew’s hip that could replace the banding. But look at what he has done today. He’s doing this on his own … we’ve never seen it.
“The main goal was to get him walking and we’re getting there.’’
“I impressed myself,’’ Andrew said of his breakthrough therapy session.
When he first suffered the debilitating strokes as a child, he reacted as many do.
“I didn’t know what to think. I remember being sad all the time and emotional. That’s common with brain injury,’’ he explained.
He has been a heart patient at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics since his heart issue was diagnosed. He has a pacemaker and takes heart medications.
“He’s got me and I won’t let him quit,’’ said Andrew’s father, Tim. “He just keeps working at getting better. Therapy has really made a difference, as you can see.’’
“I would just tell people like me to try your best and do what you can to get better,’’ Andrew said of his progress.
He has formed a tight bond with the therapy team at Valley Fair. He comes in with corny jokes he shares with them.
An example of one of their favorites:
“Two muffins are in the oven. One says, ‘it’s hot in here,’’’ Andrew begins. “The other says, ‘Ahh!...a talking muffin!’’’
It’s so silly that they all laugh even after hearing it several times.
Andrew Haut’s remarkable success story was featured by the Quad Cities River Bandits as a Home Runs for Life story on Friday night.
For information about Genesis Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services, go to www.genesishealth.com/rehabilitation or call (563) 421-0800.