The parents of Lethbridge hockey player Ryan Vandervlis said Monday the 20-year-old had been moved from the Intensive Care Unit and was communicating with them.
In an email to Global News, Rene and Barb Vandervlis said Ryan was moved to the burn unit after spending nearly four weeks in the ICU at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
The Western Hockey League player was injured in a campfire accident on June 16 and suffered burns to approximately 50 per cent of his body, his parents said.
They explained the burns varied in severity, “from superficial to full thickness (third-degree).
“He was heavily sedated (medically induced coma) for the first week after the accident, but is now fully alert although he fatigues easily.”
Ryan faces a prolonged stay in the burn unit, his parents said, which will focus on continued healing, pain management and rehabilitation.
“He continues to show signs of improvement and the doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery due to his age and excellent physical condition prior to the injury,” Rene and Barb shared.
It hasn’t been an easy road to recovery for the Lethbridge Hurricanes centre.
“Ryan has undergone five surgeries and faces several more,” his parents said. “His days consist of a lot of rest, dressing changes and extensive physical and occupational therapy in order to regain full functioning.
“He is able to communicate by texting on his iPad and whispering.”
They are hopeful his communication ability will improve when he has his tracheostomy removed later this week.
“We want to thank everyone for their continued support,” the Vandervlis said. “We can’t begin to tell you how much the heartfelt messages and well wishes have meant to us over the last month.”
Two other hockey players who were also injured, Matt Alfaro and Jordy Bellerive, were already released from hospital.
The trio suffered various burn-related injuries last month while a campfire was being started at a party at fellow player Tyler Wong’s house.
RCMP said the men were injured when “a substance was placed into a fire pit that caused an explosion.”