Episode 036 — Meet Dan Oosterhous

'I tried to go back to bed. I found myself falling asleep in my closet.' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet

This week, I got to chat with stroke survivor Dan Oosterhous, former pilot, current US Air Force Academy Tennis Coach, and 2-time stroke survivor.

Dan’s story is one of seeing a problem and trying to fix it. During his rehab, he worked closely with the therapists, always pushing for more. He asked questions, asked for additional resources to learn more about anatomy and physiology, and generally focused on what was going on with his body and how he could get better.

'I got on the internet on my tablet and just typed in some of the symptoms I was having and the first thing that came up was stroke. And it took me 6 hours to realize that's what was going on.' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet

Aside from it being an important element of his recovery, I found that when I am more engaged in my recovery and ask a lot of questions, my therapists are more engaged, too.

What I hear when I listen back to this week’s episode is how much Dan’s problem-solving drive helped him get to where he is today.


Who is Dan Oosterhous?

'I've always tried to have a positive attitude and so I looked at this as just another challenge that I faced.' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet

Dan Oosterhous head shotAfter a day spent coaching the men’s tennis team at the United States Air Force Academy in 2013, Dan Oosterhous suffered two brain stem strokes that resulted in a substantial loss of function in his left arm and leg.  Since then, Dan has made significant strides in his recovery, owing much to the support of his three children, Emma, Anna, and Andrew, and the rehabilitative power of competition.  Dan has fueled his recovery through opportunities in adaptive sports as a member of the 2014 Air Force Wounded Warrior team and a member of the 2014 and 2016 USA Invictus Games team.  Dan has earned medals in swimming at the 2014 Warrior Games and in cycling at the 2016 Invictus Games.  In 2014, he received USAFA’s General Mal Wakin Character and Leadership Award for his inspirational work with cadets and resiliency during recovery.

A native of Texarkana, Texas, Dan graduated from USAFA in 1993 and remains one of the best tennis players in the team’s history.  Dan ranks fifth on the all-time list for most wins at #1 singles and second on the career list at #1 doubles.  He was selected to the all-conference team all four years and received the team’s Most Valuable Player award three times.  During his 21-year Air Force career, Dan accumulated over 3,100 hours as an instructor pilot in three aircraft: the C-5, C-21 and T-53.

After retiring early from the Air Force as a pilot due to his stroke he continues to serve as the Men’s Tennis coach, doing it all with one good arm and one good leg. He loves sharing his message about the importance of a positive attitude in recovery.

'It's really motivating to be around people that just work hard no matter the condition they're in.' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet

Hack of the Week

Dan’s hack is to use your tone. Just because an effected limb doesn’t work right, doesn’t mean it gets a free pass. Make it work for you.

With some creative thinking you can wrap things around the fist or use it to brace things or help with your shoes.

Too often we assume that since it doesn’t work like a hand used to work, that means it can’t do anything, but that’s not the case. Think about creative non-hand ways you can work with the tone in your hand to accomplish your goals.

'You can find work arounds for just about anything.' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet


Dan Oosterhous on Twitter

Dan Oosterhous Email

US Air Force Academy Athletics

US Air Force Academy Men’s Tennis

Invictus Games

US Air Force Wounded Warriors

Dan Oosterhous in Airman Magazine

'There's nothing wrong with my leg or my arm. It's just that my brain can't talk to that part of my body. So what can I do about it?' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet

Where do we go from here?

'My life today is I would say even fuller and more fulfilling and enjoyable than it was prestroke.' -- @DOosterhous #stroke Click To Tweet

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