how a young man diagnosed with cp realized his professional dream

If asked to describe the person most likely to participate in the highly popular yet incredibly grueling CrossFit programs, there’s a very good chance most people would describe younger, muscular fitness enthusiasts with no existing health conditions or possible limitations.

While this is certainly a very good guess, it would technically be considered incorrect thanks to the heroic efforts of one young man from Missouri who overcame the significant challenges posed by an otherwise devastating medical condition.

The 23-year old man, we’ll call him Dakota, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth. For those unfamiliar with the specifics of this condition, cerebral palsy is essentially a blanket term used to describe a host of medical disorders that can affect everything ranging from a person’s vision, hearing and speech to muscle coordination, reflexes and cognitive abilities. In general, it is believed that cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage (i.e., oxygen deprivation) either during delivery or shortly after birth.

Like many other children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Dakota was unable to stand up straight. However, despite this and other physical limitations, he never gave up and bravely underwent several major surgical procedures throughout his life to help improve his condition.

The most recent of these surgeries was an almost nine-hour procedure in which surgeons performed femur extension osteotomies on both of Dakota’s legs. While painful and exhausting, the surgery ultimately proved to be a success.

“I had intense rehabilitation after that for a year, and I had to learn how to walk all over again,” he said. “But I got to begin standing upright — or nearly so — for the first time in my life. It’s a pretty big deal for a guy.”

Determined not to lose all of the progress he made during his rehabilitation, Dakota began working out at a local gym, where the owner helped him cultivate a love for fitness that he hoped to parlay into a career. Specifically, Dakota decided to pursue a dream of becoming a fitness trainer.

This dream was realized this past summer after surgeons removed the metal plates from his legs and he was able to earn his certification as a fitness trainer online. He is now employed at the very gym where it all began, inspiring gym members and rapidly filling up his client portfolio.

“I love people, I really want to help them, and I’m really into working out and exercising,” he said. “So I guess it is a perfect fit.”

It should also be noted that Dakota is currently taking part in a CrossFit program, a high-intensity workout regimen that utilizes everything from basic pull-ups and squats to workouts with an iron kettlebell.

If you feel that the onset of cerebral palsy was due to the failure of an OB/GYN to monitor the health of your baby during the delivery or a pediatrician’s failure to diagnose a health issue during your child’s early development, please consider contacting a legal professional to learn more about your rights.

Source: The Joplin Globe, “Diamond man rises above challenges of cerebral palsy to become fitness trainer,” Andra Bryan Stefanoni, Dec. 22, 2013

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