For 31-year-old Peter Hayes, golf is everything.
Getting back in the swing after five back surgeries.
For 31-year-old Peter Hayes, golf is everything. "It's my life and my livelihood," says the assistant golf pro at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket. "I can't imagine what life would be like without it."
A major health problem for Peter started innocently enough in 2005. Peter was living and golfing in Philadelphia when he felt a tingling and numbness in his legs. The next thing he knew, he was undergoing back surgery. In all, Peter had five surgeries over an 18-month period.
The ordeal almost broke him. "I spent my birthday on the operating table," he says. "The frustration of lying in a hospital bed not knowing if you're ever going to work again was almost too much."
His surgeries behind him, Peter returned to the Cape in fall 2006 and began outpatient rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands, now Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod. He was in excruciating pain. "We changed Peter's medications to better manage his pain. Then he could begin to rehabilitate," says Scott Abramson, M.D., a rehabilitation physician and an avid golfer.
"Basically," Peter says, "I had to start from scratch."
Dr. Abramson, Kim Norwood, physical therapist, and Darren Leveille, physical therapy assistant, devised a multi-phased treatment program. "We were committed to getting him back in the game," says Darren, who is also a golf devotee. "Given everything he'd been through, we weren't sure of the outcome. We did know it was going to be a complicated process."
The first phase was to rebuild Peter's overall strength and conditioning before turning their attention on the muscles he would use to play golf again. They started slowly, rebuilding Peter's core muscles and improving his overall flexibility.
One of the advantages Peter had was that Dr. Abramson was able to make "adjustments on the fly. I call it 'curbside consulting,'" says Dr. Abramson. "Peter and I could check in with each other any time. It's nice being just down the hall."
Another advantage was that Peter had a team of rehabilitation professionals who truly understood his needs. "We shared a passion for golf. We were very vested in his recovery partly because we also love the game," says Dr. Abramson.
As Peter progressed, Kim and Darren gradually increased his workload. They created a series of exercises Peter could do at home – twice a day, seven days a week. The final phase of rehabilitation involved strengthening Peter's golf muscles. "Basically, we went through all the movements that mimic a golf swing," Darren says.
"It was a lot of work," Peter agrees. "But I just was determined to do it."
In late April, Peter returned to the golf course. "It was scary and exciting all at the same time," he says. "And I admit I shed a tear."
Peter is grateful to the team who helped him toward recovery. "Kim and Darren were awesome. They pushed me hard. They worked me," he says. "If it weren't for them, I would not be playing golf again."
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