A physical therapist at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington is using his reality show obstacle training to get his clients back into fighting shape.
Last season, Greg Fleming made it to the Philadelphia city finals in “American Ninja Warrior,” a show where competitors run through a gauntlet of extreme obstacles. The 43-year-old did not complete the course. He fell in the water on the obstacle known as, “Rolling Thunder,” a huge wheel he had to manually roll down a track. But the 43-year-old isn’t giving up, making him one of the older, if not oldest, competitors.
And as it turns out, the obstacle training Fleming does to prepare for the show is perfect for his physical therapy clients, many of whom have suffered a brain injury. The obstacle training, he said, helps them regain better range of motion, strength, balance and coordination.
“Even before I knew about Ninja Warrior, I think obstacle course training or having kids do obstacle courses is something that I’ve been doing, and the other therapists have been doing, for over 15 years. And now that Ninja Warrior’s out, the kids love doing the obstacle courses even more,” Fleming said.
Garrett Rogers loves running through one of Fleming’s obstacle courses during PT. The 10-year-old has come a long way since May, when he was hit by a drunk driver at little league practice.
“He was not conscious, he had a fractured skull, fractured orbital bones, he had a brain injury, his scapula was broken, both bones in his arm, his pelvis, ribs, his femur and then lots of lacerations,” said Wendy Rogers, Garrett’s mom. “The brain injury affects everything, so even his decision-making, his speech, so he does occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy.”
But after several surgeries, blood transfusions and hours of therapy later, Garrett is doing better than anyone initially anticipated.
“He is a miracle for sure,” said Rogers, in an email updating Garrett’s condition. She said Garrett is back at home, attending school five days a week and enjoying being a kid again. Rogers keeps supporters posted on how Garrett is progressing through a Facebook page at “GMoneyStrong.” “GMoney,” is Garrett’s nickname.
Rogers attributed a huge part of Garrett’s miraculous recovery to Fleming.
“They’ve absolutely clicked from the beginning,” Rogers said. “[Garrett] just responds to him. I think they definitely have a bond.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Garrett is a huge fan of “American Ninja Warrior,” earning Fleming some major cool points. When Fleming isn’t training Garrett or others, he trains himself in the hospital employee gym. Garrett had the opportunity to watch Fleming train one day. “It makes me want to push myself,” he said.
“It’s equally as motivating when I see Garrett and the other kids I work with in the hospital do the things that they do. So it pushes me to do better myself,” Fleming said.