OHSU clinic helps kids with heart conditions learn to be active - KPTV - FOX 12

ONLY ON 12

OHSU clinic helps kids with heart conditions learn to be active

Posted: Updated:
Will Van Dyke, working out at the Pediatric Cardiac Rehab Clinic on Friday. Will Van Dyke, working out at the Pediatric Cardiac Rehab Clinic on Friday.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

For most kids, playing on a sports team or hitting the hoops with friends after school are rites of passage; but kids and teens with heart conditions are often left out, scared to push their bodies too hard.

Now, there’s a new Pediatric Cardiac Rehab Clinic in Portland that aims to change that.

Opened last summer through Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, members of the cardiac and physical therapy teams work with kids ages 10 to 18 to determine a safe level of exercise. The idea is to transition from the program out into the real world, where they can join an appropriate sports team or gym with confidence.

“I think that it’s our job as doctors not just to tell them what they can’t do – because the fear of every parent and child is that they’re going to die on the field – but to tell them what they can do and to do it in a safe environment,” clinic co-founder Dr. Jennifer Huang told FOX 12.

Congenital Heart Disease affects roughly 1 in 120 babies in the United States every year.

Will Van Dyke is one of them.

When his mother was 20 weeks pregnant, she learned that her little boy had CHD. Doing nothing meant he’d die within weeks of birth; the only other options were a heart transplant or a series of three risky surgeries.

They chose the latter.

“His first surgery was day four [after birth],” Will’s mother, Lori Van Dyke told FOX 12. “It was 12 or 14 hours, it was pretty intense, and then he was in the ICU for quite a while after that. We were in the hospital for almost a month.”

Surgeries two and three later followed, and Will dealt with other health complications including a seizure as he grew up.

Now 15 years old, because his chest has been cut open so many times, he can’t play football like his brother, or basketball like his sister.

“I would play with my dog, but that was it,” Will said. “I didn’t really do anything more past that.”

He’s one of the first patients to try OHSU’s new clinic, and his life is changing.

Under medical supervision, he first underwent a cardiopulmonary exercise test. He was told to work out as hard as he could on a bike or treadmill, while hooked up to a series of monitors.

“That first test is really what tells us what their capacity is and how far they can push themselves,” explained Ali Lyman, a physician assistant working with Will. “We take that maximum ability and then pare it down to say, ‘While they’re doing these sessions, what kind of effort do we want them to be giving?’”

Now, Will works out a few times a week at a gym near his home with other teenagers, and is learning the signs between safe exertion and something that may be more serious – and he’s having fun doing it.

“It didn’t take very many sessions for him to get to a point where I’m observing him and [my colleague] Sara working out together, and he’s telling her, ‘This is too easy!’” Lyman said. “He’s building that confidence in himself and in his body and what he can really push himself to do.”

The Van Dyke family has already seen the positive changes, and now Will knows – heart condition or not – he can be much more active than he ever thought.

“I like to play basketball, and I can run a lot more,” Will explained. “I hang out with my friends on the weekend, and we go motor biking on four wheelers and stuff.”

“The very first [session] that he went to, he got in the car and said, ‘Mom, I feel great, I feel like I can breathe,’ and I said, ‘That’s endorphins, that’s exercise!” his mother said. “What I hope for him is that this is something that becomes a habit for his life… it’s not special anymore, it’s just part of life.”

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.