Patient Stories: Robert Fleetwood

Meet Mr. Robert Fleetwood, a very successful user of a reciprocating gait orthosis (RGO). He has only had his orthosis since early May of 2018 but has made amazing gains in physical therapy! This is his third bout of physical therapy at the Kennedy Krieger Institute International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI). He said that the most powerful motivators in his journey to recovery and walking again were his wife, and seeing the success of others around him at ICSCI. Mr. Fleetwood says that he struggled a lot internally to find motivation especially right after his injury. He says that after his injury, he had trouble even sitting upright when he first came to KKI. He wasn't able to dress himself or do a lot of his daily activities. He expressed a great deal of gratitude for his care team, both at KKI and Dankmeyer. He never thought he would be where he is now, given where he started.

He is now able to walk with a walker and his RGO, completely on his own, and can make a quarter lap around the ICSCI gym. One of his goals with the RGO was to stand without using his hands, so he could do more activities in the kitchen specifically, such as cooking and doing dishes. He is able to walk with his RGO for about 45 minutes to an hour so far, after roughly eight weeks of therapy. 

He expresses that the time after his injury was very difficult. Now when he sees someone that is newly injured that is at KKI, he will go over and talk to them, to see if he can help them out. He knows what it was like to struggle at the beginning, and wants to help other people in a similar situation. To anyone who is newly injured or having a tough time, he says, "Shoot for the stars. Don't let people tell you what you can and can't do." He feels truly blessed to have his wife, who helped him regain his motivation and also bring back his positive attitude. Once he got on the right track everything fell in place for him. He even improved his nutrition to help with his recovery and improve his strength.

His goal for his next bout of care is to do the running man exercise, shown here.

He also wants to be out in the community all day long, being able to walk with his orthoses. He hopes one day to progress to walking without his orthoses. His practitioner, Nina Bondre, CPO, says, “Mr. Fleetwood is truly an inspiration. Working with him has been a joy, and his positive energy is contagious. I hope others can see his success and be motivated to keep pushing themselves.”