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Information and Updates for SGT Robert with Army
Last Update: 7/15/2015 << Back to list
In late fall of 2012 SGT Rob was critically injured while conducting operations in southern Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). While out on foot patrol, Rob stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and lost both of his legs making him a bilateral above knee amputee. He also sustained injuries to his right hand including partial amputation of his pointer, middle, and index fingers.
Since Rob's arrival back to the States he has undergone many surgeries and worked very hard in physical and occupational therapy sessions. He started attending several adaptive sports clinics where he was able to play both Rugby and Ice Hockey! It is our understanding he absolutely loved being able to play both sports! It is very evident that he and his wife Megan rely on their sense of humor and tremendous love of live to draw the strength they need to face these challenges. Earlier this year they were able to snow ski in beautiful Colorado thanks to the Vail Veterans Program. Rob, who was an experienced snowboarder, was able adapt and learn to ski AND to snowboard with equipment especially designed for amputees. They both enjoyed a snowmobile ride too. In April Rob played in his first game with the USA Warriors Sled Hockey Team. He made THREE goals during that game!
Of course, with the severity of Rob's injury there have been ups and downs in the recovery process, including having to be without his prosthetic legs for a month while trying to determine the cause of pain he was having in his left limb. Slowly he is working his way back into walking again but the cause of the pain is still a mystery.
Rob's next step is exploring plastic surgery options for his damaged hand and fingers.
Update: 08-20-13 Lots to report from SGT Rob these days. His injuries have certainly not slowed him down. They have enjoyed the fun, sun and water this summer. He also completed 6 long days of hockey camp and try outs. Unfortunately, he did not make the National Team or the Development Team, but enjoyed the experience tremendously. Most recently, he underwent surgery on his leg for Heterotopic Ossification extraction when his leg pain became unbearable. HO is described as "Bone that forms in a location where it should not exist" He is recovering quite well from surgery and looks forward to begin walking again. They are hopeful this will be the last major surgery for him. SGT Rob and his wife were able to escape the hospital for a little mini get-away earlier this month! OH, and he is also celebrating his birthday!! Join us in wishing SGT Rob and Very Happy Birthday and Many More!
UPDATE: 11-10-13 Megan shared with us that Rob celebrated his first "alive week" the way he should - by living each day to the fullest! he participated in the USA Warriors Sled Hockey League games in late October. The team won two of the four games they played and Rob scored THREE GOALS!!! He has also been working very hard in PT on his knees...with the new prosthetics he will stand at his full height! Way to go Rob! You are truly amazing.
UPDATE: 02-26-2014 An update from Megan: The verdict is in, the doctor said that Rob is a great candidate for the femur lengthening surgery. Because this device is not "FDA approved" the doctor and his team have started the humanitarian device exemption paperwork. This has to be done as there is currently no comparable device available in the US market. The device they will be implanting into Rob's femur is called Fitbone. We currently know one other patient that has been gone through this surgery. He has had great success so far, already gaining 3 inches and they are working on growing his femur even more. We have great confidence in this doctor as he has an extensive background in limb lengthening. We have already scheduled the surgery for late April(pending all paperwork is completed and approved by then). Rob was happy that the surgery was scheduled to take place AFTER the end of his sled hockey league. Thanks again for all of your continued prayers and support!
UPDATE: April 13, 2014 Another great update from Megan, even though it was from yesterday, I still wanted to share! "We are currently in Massachusetts for the 2014 USA Disabled Hockey Festival. This will be Rob's last hockey event before his femur extension surgery which will unfortunately keep him off the ice for almost a year. So far he is going out with a bang. Rob scored 3 goals today when they beat Buffalo 6-0. The USA Warriors also won last night, beating the New York Rangers 4-2. The Warriors play the Minnesota Wild tonight at 9:40pm. The Division A Championship game will be played tomorrow. If you're interested in watching any of the games, they are available online at www.usahockey.fasthockey.com"
Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the games will still be linked since they have already happened.
UPDATE: 10-16-2014 Sergeant Rob celebrated his "Alive Day" earlier this month! It has been two years since SGT Rob's injury and since that time, he as shown amazing determination to overcome all challenges that have come his way. Rob has re-learned things he never had to think twice about doing before such as walking, driving, swimming, and snowboarding. He has learned to participate and enjoy new adapted activities such as sled-hockey, wheelchair rugby, bi-ski & mono-ski, Crossfit, and hand-cycling.
Rob is still working on the femur-lengthening process in his left leg. This process will hopefully result in finding a good prosthetic fit that will make walking easier. Unfortunately, the next phase has been postponed to allow time for the new device to be approved by the FDA. Although both Rob and his wife, Megan, are anxious to continue with the surgery, the extra time allows Rob to participate in his favorite activity, sled hockey, which Megan says makes him very happy!
Be happy SGT Rob. Happy 2nd Alive Day!
UPDATE: January 22, 2015
Sergeant Rob had another extensive surgery early last month. Robs' wife, Megan, gave us the following report:
"The surgery it went as well, as the doctor had predicted. They had to put an x-fix on Rob's leg while they removed the FitBone nail. (Unfortunately we weren't able to keep the device as the German company wanted it back to do "testing" on it - oh well.) Once the nail was removed they broke the femur and made a carefully calculated "pizza pie" cut to remove a small piece of bone. This was done as a corrective procedure since the last nail moved during the stretching process. Next they implanted the new device. They then had to grow the new device out about 25mm in the operating room, which took approximately 3 hours to complete. They grew out the nail so that the smaller/slimmer section of the nail was visible for them to place three anchor screws along side the rod. These screws will help secure the device so that it doesn't shift again during the stretching process. They then removed the x-fix and sewed him up."
Rob is the first person to get this new device implanted as it was just FDA approved.
Ufortunately, in the last few days, Rob has developed an infection in the incision. Megan asks that we "Please pray that they are able to fight off this infection. We will not let this get us down. With any "risky" and innovative surgery there are almost always going to be obstacles, this just happens to be one of ours. Thank you for your continued support!"
UPDATE: January 26, 2015
GREAT NEWS! SGT Rob is doing much better and will be released from the hospital! Megan and the home health nurse care manage the rest of his care in the comfort of their home.
UPDATE: April 16, 2015
While checking in on Sgt. Rob's progress for the lengthening process to his left residual femur, I found out some great news! Megan, Rob's wife, reports he has gained just over an inch from his new rod, bringing the total growth for this year to approximately 3 inches. Megan and Rob are hoping to make it to a total of 4 inches, but it all depends on how much more Rob's skin, muscle, and soft tissue will stretch.
Thankfully, Rob continues to remain active in sled hockey. Megan tells us that the USA Warriors recently took home the championship title for the Northeast Sled Hockey League, which also landed them a spot in the 2015 USA Hockey Disabled Festival!
Megan shared the following article from the USA Warrior Ice Hockey Facebook Page, which not only mentions Rob's goal, but aslo mentions teammate and former Operation PAL participant LCPL Josh's goal as well. In fact, it was team-captain Josh's goal clinched the win!
From the article:
In the final day of the USA Hockey Disabled Festival, the USA Warriors finished the tournament strong: the National Division team tied former National Champion Buffalo Sabres with a goal by Josh Misiewicz with 21 seconds remaining in the game. It was Josh's second goal which followed an initial tally by Rob Easley. Strong defense and opportunistic offense kept the USA Warriors in the game. In the shoot out, the Sabres prevailed with a single goal. The combined USA/Ohio/New England Warriors took third place in an adult C Division with a 9 to 3 victory with goals from Kaz Kazimir, Khach Khachadurian, Bob Costa, Shane Parson and Christy Gardner. A great ending to a great season for the USA Warriors sled program; hard work, continued improvement, national recognition and camaraderie.
We have an update from Megan on the lengthening process on Rob's left residual femur - He had another surgical procedure yesterday.
"What a day! Rob was expected to be out of the OR by 12:00 or 1:00. The OR nurse did not call me at all with update, which is very unusual. The surgery ended up taking almost twice as long as planned. When I called back to the OR just after 5:00pm they told me that they were closing Rob up at that time and the doctor would come to speak to me shortly.
Dr. Dâ€™Allyrand came in around 6:00pm, dripping sweat, and exhausted. Since the surgery was so long, I knew that he could use some fluids and a snack. My friend Katie and I visited the closest vending machine and bought him some snacks to scarf down while he filled me in on how the surgery went. â€“ In case you were wondering, he was VERY grateful for the drinks and snacks!!
Long story short, he had to remove 4 screws from Robâ€™s leg, and one screw alone took him 2 hours because it refused to come out! He was able to eventually get all of the hardware out of Robâ€™s leg. After making some minor adjustments to Robâ€™s alignment with an x-fix, the doctor began to implant the cement coated rod from the top (hip). It took a lot of work to get the rod in, but it was successfully implanted. I was wrong in my earlier statement; the antibiotic cement will release antibiotics for roughly 6 weeks, not months like I had indicated earlier.
After surgery, Rob was initially in a tremendous amount of pain. Which after hearing everything that happened and the length of the surgery, that was expected. Robâ€™s pain in his leg was well controlled by the nerve block he had implanted prior to his procedure this morning. However, his arms were causing him excruciating pain when he tried to raise, straighten, or bend them. This was because he had been in the same position on his side with his arms bent in front of him for roughly 10 hours!! The pain was finally well controlled and his heart rate had settled to an acceptable number under 100. At this time we were able to make our way upstairs to the 4th floor. We arrived and got settled in just before 8:00pm. Now that the continuous flow of doctors and nurses has slowed down and we have had something to eat, I can finally fill you in on our day!!
Thank you to everyone who sent love and prayers today! Please continue to send them as then continue to monitor Rob for any signs of infection. We will try to get some sleep tonightâ€¦TRY. Ha ha
Here is a YouTube video on how the antibiotic cement covered rod is made, in case you were curious:
An update from Megan: "Rob was discharged on Monday afternoon. He has been at home recovering and attending his doctors appointments as scheduled. We still haven't heard anything from infectious disease in reference to the cultures so we are doing the military way of things and thinking "No news, is good news"! Thanks again for your continued thoughts and prayers. Rob will go in next week for a follow up with the ortho team and if everything is looking good, they will remove the staples and stitches."
UPDATE: July 15, 2015
we have a FANTASTIC report from Megan today on Rob! She writes: "A lot of things have been happening lately. A big one is that Rob got casted today! Woo-Hoo That means that he should be able to stand up tomorrow for the first time in 15 months!!!!! He also received his ETS date today, as of now it will be February 1st, 2016! (I'm not exactly sure what ETS stands for but I do know that it's his last day of service with the Army.) Also, we have been working closely with Vacations For Warriors and we will be taking our trip next month! YAY!!! So many good things happening and we are so happy to be able to share it with you all! Stay tuned for more details to come. :)"