Published on July 10, 2019

Home Runs For Life: Wyatt’s Story

Wyatt and his pediatric therapist

There was no reason to suspect anything more worrisome than a common virus when Wyatt Loes’ temperature spiked.

Probably related to a recent ear infection, his father, Trevor, suspected. But to be cautious, 2-year-old Wyatt was taken to an emergency department.

For the doctor’s examination, Wyatt had his shirt off. When he was putting it back on, Wyatt couldn’t raise his right arm. It was suggested Wyatt should be taken to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Wyatt was able to walk in. When released a couple days later he couldn’t walk, sit up, or stand.

“He basically was paralyzed,’’ said Wyatt’s grandfather, Dale Ziegler as a single tear dropped down his cheek. “It was just so unbelievable. At first, we didn’t know what it was or if it was fixable.’’

In August 2018, the original diagnosis from the University of Iowa doctors was transverse myelitis, which is an inflammation of the spinal cord. The inflammation of the spinal cord disrupts communications from nerve fibers in the spinal cord to the rest of the body, causing pain, sensory problems and weakness in the legs and possibly arms.

Wyatt’s Diagnosis

Wyatt in a ball pitBut at the time more than 200 kids in the United States had been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which is often described as a polio-like illness. AFM is a condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord, and is characterized by rapid onset of weakness in one or more limbs.

Wyatt’s diagnosis was changed to AFM, making him one of two Iowa children to be diagnosed. He was stricken on the right side.

At this time there is no known treatment other than therapies.

“First he lost use of his right arm, which is still weakened,’’ explained Wyatt’s mom, Ana. “A day or two later he lost function of both legs. After that, he couldn’t hold up his head.

“I tried not to get too upset because it would only create negative feelings toward the new path we were going to have to take. I knew he was in a good place for his care. He also has two older siblings, Ezra (9) and Hadley (6) who helped tremendously. They helped Wyatt gain strength every day.’’

Eight months later, Wyatt is walking again and progressing in other ways at the Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Center (GOPEDS). Four days a week at the center Wyatt receives physical and occupational therapy from several therapists, including warm water therapy.

Working With “Righty”

Wyatt works with his therapistOne of the focuses of therapy is to work with Wyatt on “righty,’’ his right arm and hand.

“I believe the therapies have made a huge difference in high recovery,’’ Ana Loes said. “Not only physically, but emotionally and socially. The benefit has not only been to Wyatt, but all of us.

“All of his therapists have become great friends. He has his good days and bad days at the clinic, but I never feel like it is wasted time.’’

Ana Loes said it is uncertain how much function Wyatt will reacquire, especially on his right side.

“No one knows what his prognosis will be. We have best cases, but no one knows for sure because of the rarity of the condition,’’ she said. “Some of the specialists believe he was lucky that this happened at such a young age. His body is still growing so maybe his nerves and function will return. A full recovery? Chances are pretty slim but we keep working at it.’’

If Wyatt’s attitude toward his therapy sessions at GOPEDS is any indication, he may surprise everyone.

“He has been nothing short of inspiring and heroic. I am proud of how he able to carry himself, and still be conscious of his differences,’’ Ana added. “He is well aware of the limitation of his arm, but he pushes through every obstacle that is in front of him, even if he cries or gets frustrated. He always pushes himself to try again.

“His brother and sister are so caring and nurturing with Wyatt but they also push him. They play with him like they would with any other kid. They include him in their activities and I think that helps Wyatt develop.’’

Wyatt’s recovery with the assistance of the skilled staff at Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy will be recognized by the Quad Cities River Bandits on July 26 at Modern Woodmen Park. Genesis and the River Bandits are again celebrating the recovery of patients with Home Runs for Life recognitions in May, June, July and August at home games.

The River Bandits continue to provide generous support to Genesis initiatives benefiting children’s health in the region.

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To learn more, call our office at 563-421-3497 or click here.

-- Craig Cooper

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