April 25, 2002
Amazing teen comes out swinging with new sports arm
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
FLOWOOD, Miss.—You should see the smile on Charlie Rogers’ face.
When the 16 year-old Nashville teen plays catch with his dad, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun.
As Charlie zooms around Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s east campus in his wheelchair catching baseballs and slinging them back, he uses a specially designed sports arm that looks like a lacrosse stick complete with basket.
It’s one of the enhancements the hospital’s team of orthotics and prosthetic professionals has designed to enhance day-to-day living for Charlie who has no legs and no arms below the elbows.
“Now we can play catch and other sports together,” said his dad, David. “But seeing Charlie actually doing it is something else. It’s amazing.”
Diagnosed with a devastating disease called meningococcemia, Charlie lost his limbs at age five. Last August, technicians at the Jackson hospital’s orthotics and prosthetic division in Flowood fitted him with high-tech artificial arms and legs. Later that day Charlie was walking again.
Meningococcemia affects one in 100,000 and mostly children under age five. Eleven years ago doctors gave the Nashville boy a 3 percent chance of survival. Today Charlie is on the waiting list for a new kidney. Until then, he undergoes daily dialysis.
During their second trip to Jackson Charlie and his family met with Rick Psonack, director of orthotics and prosthetics at Methodist Rehab, to try out the new sports arm and to make some modifications to the arms and legs he received in August.
“I loved the looks on people’s faces when I told them we were going to Mississippi to get Charlie’s new arm,” said his mother, Cherry. “The dedication these people show their patients everday is why we came to Methodist in the first place and why we keep coming back.”
Since his August visit, Charlie has put his hands and legs to good use and he’s continuing to impress those around him with his progress.
“He’s always liked computers and now he’s started taking a computer tech class,” said Cherry Rogers. “And the school physical therapist is spending more time with him helping him work out more which is great for him. He’s started swimming and he’s just doing great.”
New limbs are giving Charlie an added sense of independence said his sister, Jessica. “We’ve always had fun playing. But he’s been pulling hair and shaking hands and now he’s drinking from real glasses instead of the Styrofoam ones he had been using,” she said.
Charlie says he’s enjoying his new legs and arms, but he’s never needed them to take care of himself.
“Charlie is so industrious,” said his physical therapist in Nashville Dawn Ruiz. “He can figure out how to do just about anything.”
That includes work in the kitchen where Charlie has been wowing his family with his culinary prowess. “He mostly makes desserts, but he’s always trying new things. He loves to cook.”
Already, Methodist Rehab’s orthotics and prosthetics team is building Charlie other sports arms for different sports. He’s anxious to continue developing his golf game.
“He’s a great putter,” said his dad, David. “Without his arms, he can drive the ball 75 yards and when he gets around a green, he’s deadly at chipping. I can’t imagine how much better he’s going to be when he starts using his new sports arms.”
Last August, WJTV's Melanie Christopher, standing center, interviewed Methodist Rehabilitation Center orthotics and prosthetics technician Brad Kennedy, standing left, and 15-year-old patient Charlie Rodgers, seated, at the hospital's east campus off Lakeland Drive.
Methodist orthotics and prosthetics technician Brad Kennedy, left, and director Rick Psonak, right, assisted 15-year-old Charlie Rogers as he took his first steps last August.
Charlie Rogers, right, uses his new sports arm to catch a baseball as his father, David, looks on.