January 31, 2011
When Kevin Degnan was hit by a car in 1986, the avid runner’s world as he knew it stood still. His lower left leg was severely injured, putting the Canisius College track star’s passion on hold long term.
After enduring fourteen surgeries, years of rehabilitation, and constant fights with infection, Degnan and his doctor made the mutual decision this past fall to amputate.
Only three months after his surgery, he’s started running again and owes his recovery to AthletiCare at Kenmore Mercy Hospital and Tonawanda Limb & Brace Inc., who fitted him with a prosthesis below his knee.
Degnan’s journey has been an amazing one to say the least. Confronted with a host of emotions, questions and concerns, he didn’t know what the future would hold. He describes his experience as an uphill battle.
“Running was my life and this accident, and then the surgery; it hit me from so many psyches. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing support system – family, friends, work and the physical therapists at AthletiCare.”
Through modern prosthetics and proper rehabilitation, many amputees can lead active, productive lives. Catholic Health AthletiCare and Partners In Rehab’s Amputee Rehabilitation Program is helping patients like Degnan on the road to recovery.
“From the moment a patient learns an amputation is necessary, we begin the education process with the entire family, discussing everyone’s needs and what lies ahead,” says Joe Baumgarden, manager of AthletiCare at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. “From there, specially trained therapists at each level of care work with amputee patients to provide high quality, seamless care and help them achieve their rehabilitation goals.”
For Degnan, that goal is to a run a 5K in April. A resident of Kenmore, he can be seen running through the village. On nice days, he even runs to AthletiCare where Baumgarden has tailored a rehabilitation plan working on balance, strength, coordination, getting him to walk and eventually run without thinking.
“Some people who go through an amputation end up being so inactive that they're at risk for obesity, depression, and diabetes," said Baumgarden. "That obviously hasn’t been the case for Kevin. He has shown determination, courage and amazing enthusiasm. He is truly an inspiration."