Jay Yost's Story

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Jay Yost's Story

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A story from Jackie Runion at The Marietta Times:

Coolville resident Jay Yost has some goals as he pictures a future in which he can walk again.

"I plan to get back on my Harley Davidson," said Yost, 45. "And I want to be able to dance with my wife."

It was just more than a year ago that Yost was seriously injured while working a construction job in Wheeling, W.Va., and this week, he became the third U.S. citizen to receive a bionic hip and knee from the cutting-edge Ossur prosthetic company, all right in Marietta.

With the guidance of physical therapists and a prosthetic specialist, 45-year-old Jay Yost, of Coolville, takes some of his first steps while fitted with an Ossur Power Knee and bionic hip Wednesday morning at Memorial Health System Frontier in Marietta.

"The combination is that he is a high-level amputee with a hemipelvectomy, so he is now using the hip as well as the Power Knee," said Kurt Gruben, senior clinical specialist for Ossur. "Hundreds of people have benefited from the Power Knee, but this is unique."

Yost was life flighted to Pittsburgh in January 2015 after he was injured and trapped working on a construction job in Wheeling and went through a hemipelvectomy. The procedure is the rarest lower-extremity amputation, which involves removal of the leg and half of the pelvis, which in this case was on Yost's right side.

"It's hard to imagine I'm only the third person to get all of this," Yost said. "I didn't think at the time that I would reach this point."

On Wednesday, Yost was at Memorial Health System's Frontier location in Marietta, where a local therapy team will work with him for months to teach him to walk and function with the use of the prosthetic.

"He'll be here five days a week for four weeks to work on the inside bars and on his strength and endurance," said Memorial Health physical therapist Beth Schwendeman. "We need him to get that stability to operate the power leg."

Mary Jo Clayton of Paradigm Outcomes, which finds solutions for people injured through workers compensation networks, said Yost was matched with doctors in Pittsburgh and then connected to Memorial Health therapists to be fitted with the prosthetic.

"He underwent about 36 surgeries and the hemipelvectomy, which does not leave a lot of bony support, so they recommended this bionic knee," Clayton said. "He's worked very hard to get where he is."

The Ossur product was debuted about seven years ago and can cost around $60,000, according to The Robotics Institute. It utilizes artificial intelligence, motion sensors and wireless communication to learn and adjust to the walking style of its user.

The products are made in Iceland, and Gruben travels all over the U.S. to help patients use them.

"I want to be able to run like the wind...and I want to be able to dance in the rain," Yost said.

Gruben said Yost's spirit and enthusiasm makes him a great patient to work with.

"His level is challenging, and it's going to take some time," Gruben said. "He'll be tired, but his willingness to embrace this and get through the circumstances and the support he has is great. You can see it in the smile on his face."

Yost and his wife, Charlee, are hoping to move forward with the new outlook on life as they prepare to open Charlee's Speakeasy in Lubeck, W.Va., at the start of April.

"It'll be a tavern that is fully handicapped-accessible," Charlee said. "We realized there isn't a lot you can do because even places that say they're accessible aren't, because until you've lived it you really don't know what that can mean."

Charlee said she is proud of Jay's determination.

"It was a tragedy but it had a silver lining," she said. "A lot of people said he wouldn't walk again, but he did."
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