Aspiring Student-Athlete Rebounds After Losing Leg in Ski Racing Accident - Adventist HealthCare

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Media Contact: Tina Sheesley

Published on July 28, 2009

Aspiring Student-Athlete Rebounds after Losing Leg in Ski Racing Accident

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland Helps 19-Year-Old Amputee Get Back to Life

Rockville, Md. - A 19-year-old amputee treated at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland is conquering challenges few people face in a lifetime.

Wesley Hughes, a resident of Damascus, Md., underwent an amputation of his left leg following a skiing accident in January 2009. An avid recreational skier, Hughes had just joined the ski racing team at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He was at his first competition when the accident occurred. He underwent five surgeries to try and save his leg, which suffered a severe compound fracture just below the knee and a severed main artery.

Following the accident, Hughes was immediately taken to a hospital in Morgantown, W.Va. where he spent nine days in the surgical intensive care unit before the final decision was made to amputate his left leg above the knee. Seven days after the amputation, he was admitted to the comprehensive amputee program at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland for recovery.

"There are few who have been able to respond so quickly to the challenges Wesley has had to face," said Dr. Terrence Sheehan, Chief Medical Officer for Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland and Medical Director for the Amputee Coalition of America. "He's progressed to a point where you can't even tell that he has a prosthesis unless he is wearing shorts. He has a very determined and resilient spirit."

Hughes spent nine days in inpatient care at the rehabilitation hospital to heal his wounds and regain the 25 pounds he lost from his lean 6-foot frame. After quickly progressing from a wheelchair to crutches, he was discharged to outpatient rehabilitation for continued recovery and strength training.

It was only 10 days later that Hughes received his temporary prosthesis and was readmitted to inpatient rehab. Within four days, he was walking on his prosthesis without any assisting devices. After exceeding everyone's expectations, he was discharged to outpatient rehabilitation for prosthetic training. Now fitted with a permanent, state-of-the-art prosthesis, Hughes is making great strides in perfecting his gait and visits the gym regularly.

"[Wesley] is phenomenal. He's surpassed everyone we've worked with in motivation, in progression and in self-exploration," said Sandy Shehadeh, the lead physical therapist for the amputee specialty program at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, adding that Hughes eagerly utilized every part of the hospital's program, including the amputee support group and peer visitation service.

Hughes was recently honored with the 2009 Inspirational Award from the college he attends. He plans to return to his ski team and will be undergoing special training to learn to ski with a prosthesis following the completion of his rehabilitation. In the meantime, the physics major has signed up for summer classes to remain on track with his 2011 graduating class.

"I'm the kind of person that nothing can really keep me down. I love to do anything and everything," Hughes said.

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland is the first and only acute rehabilitation hospital in Montgomery County. Its amputee program holds the distinction of being the first in the Washington D.C. region and third in the nation to earn accreditation from CARF International, which established the first national set of standards for amputee care in 2008. In addition, Adventist Rehab offers comprehensive rehabilitation programs for traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, orthopedic injuries and surgeries, sports related injuries, work-related injuries, cardiopulmonary conditions and neurological disorders. Adventist Rehab has locations in Rockville and Takoma Park with outpatient services in Rockville and Silver Spring.


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