Caleb Clausen Has an Army of Supporters
Caleb Clausen was at a friend’s house. The electric scooter was charged up and ready to roll. He had never ridden the scooter and didn’t know how to stop.
In only seconds, the lives of Caleb and his family from Walnut, Ill., changed. He rode onto a highway on the scooter and was struck by a truck pulling a tanker. It was no one’s fault.
Only 6 years old on Sept. 19, the day of the accident, Caleb survived but suffered life-threatening injuries. He survived a second time when he went into cardiac arrest soon after transport to a hospital in Peoria.
Caleb sustained a skull fracture, brain injury, two broken femurs, broken pelvis and other internal injuries to his midsection and lower body.
“The neurologist told us Caleb would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. He wouldn’t walk, talk, eat, or breathe on his own,’’ explained Ben Clausen, Caleb’s dad.
A pediatric intensive care doctor said essentially the same thing.
Less than a year after the accident, in therapy sessions at Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy (GOPEDS), Caleb continues to prove the doctors wrong. He is walking, jumping, talking and he is eating on his own, although he still has a tube for medications.
“Everything they said he couldn’t do, he is doing,’’ said Tess Peters, Caleb’s primary physical therapist at Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy. “He is doing wonderfully. He has already come a long way.’’
He faces additional surgeries and challenges, including a surgery in September to remove the hardware used to repair the broken femurs. Considering the extent of his injuries and the prognosis of the two doctors, he has greatly exceeded the dire prognosis.
He is on schedule to return to school in the second grade this fall.
“He is super-motivated most days,’’ Peters said. “What we’re working on now is transitioning Caleb back into the school routine and making sure he will be safe in that environment.”
Referral to Genesis Program
Caleb’s parents were referred to Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy by another therapist. They were told their best options for rehabilitation would be Genesis or in Chicago. They chose the Genesis program.
It is a major commitment for Annie and Ben Clausen. They drive Caleb an hour each way from Walnut four days a week for his physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy in Bettendorf.
“He has made a lot of progress in this program. It’s all worth it for Caleb,’’ Annie said.
“Absolutely amazing,’’ Ben said of the recovery.
It is almost a cliché to call a child’s recovery from extensive injuries “a miracle.’’
“The doctors don’t say that but we think Caleb is pretty miraculous,’’ Ben said. “He had always been very stubborn and I think that made a huge difference in his recovery.
“If this isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is. I don’t think you can understand the strength and resiliency of a child until you see it.’’
Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy in Bettendorf has been a part of remarkable success stories before. The center provides comprehensive pediatric rehabilitation services for patients from birth to 21 years old. Therapy services include physical therapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy from highly trained therapists.
Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy has been part of a national network of support for Caleb, his parents, and three other Clausen children.
Since the start of the family’s ordeal, Team Caleb has been an army of supporters who have stood by the family and helped the family emotionally, financially and spiritually. There have been prayers for Caleb from all over after his story appeared in People Magazine, NBC’s Today Show and on national cable station WGN in Chicago. From there, the story was picked up all over the world.
Ben’s employer, Princeton Flighting Corporation, a manufacturer of auger flighting for agriculture and industry, made sure he never missed a paycheck, although he was away from work for the three months Caleb was hospitalized.
When Caleb finally was able to return home last December, there was a parade of vehicles, including trucks from three fire departments, escorting the family home.
At Walnut’s 4th of July celebration, the town’s annual fireworks extravaganza was dedicated to Caleb.
The family’s Facebook page @Pray4Caleb has hundreds of followers who have read updates and sent their prayers.
“It has been a heartbreaking experience. But when there have been setbacks, we just say, ‘I will have to pray harder then,’’’ Ben said.
The family is getting closer to its new normal. Caleb needs more procedures and surgery, but returning to school will be a huge milestone.
“Once we get past all of this, then maybe we’ll be able to breathe,’’ Annie said.
The Quad-Cities River Bandits are recognizing the spirit and recovery efforts of four Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy patients with the Home Runs for Life recognition. On Friday, Aug. 17, the River Bandits will recognize Caleb’s resiliency and courage at their game.
For more information about the services of Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy, go to www.genesishealth.com/gopeds.