A Vancouver man is inspiring others with his fight to recover from a stroke.
Ryan Hietanen has worked tirelessly to beat the odds, and has found creative ways get his life back on track, including a newfound obsession with 3D printing.
The stroke Hietanen suffered nearly two years ago left him with speech difficulties and the use of only one hand.
Since then, he’s been using the printer to create tools to help with everyday life, like a toothpaste squeezer, a device for clipping nails one-handed and a phone holder. He’s got hundreds more ideas in the back of his mind.
He told Global’s This is BC some days he could barely bring himself to leave the machine.
“I would sleep in the living room,” he said.
Before the stroke Hietanen worked at EA Games in the motion-capture division.
But everything changed on a family trip to Hornby Island. Hietanen suffered a brain hemorrhage and was airlifted to hospital for life-saving surgery. Doctors were unsure about his future.
“(They said) we don’t know what the outcome will be but it’s very bad,” Hietanen’s wife Suzanne said. But inspired by his family, he was determined to walk again, and he did it with the help of specialists at GF Strong Rehabilitation.
“I just don’t know if I could have done it without them,” he said.
He’s made incredible gains in a short amount of time, even taking up rock climbing.
“He’s my biggest role model right now, how determined he is and how hard he works,” Hietanen’s daughter Olivia said.
Now, Hietanen might need to step up printing production for his new friends at GF Strong.
“He’s like, ‘Do you need a nail clipper? I’ll make you one,'” Suzanne said.
He’s also branched out a bit, making Halloween costumes and even a remote-controlled car.
But maybe the best one so far has been a device so he can use the controller and play Nintendo against his son Jordan.
The family’s original gamer has been able to win again at Mario Kart — though, just once, and don’t Jordan.
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