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Fordyce teen driven to return to sports after traumatic injury | Columnists: Nick Hytrek

FORDYCE, Neb. — Therapists will tell you that a key to recovering from a traumatic injury is a positive attitude and motivation to work hard during rehabilitation.

Landyn Keiser’s got both parts down in his desire to return to playing the sports he loves, something a lot of people probably doubted would ever happen after he lost much of the muscle in his lower legs as a result of a utility vehicle accident on Memorial Day.



Landyn Keiser

Landyn Keiser sits with his little sister, Camryn, who has kept him company during a seven-month recovery from a utility vehicle accident at their home in Fordyce, Nebraska. Landyn lost much of the muscle in his lower legs and has begun physical therapy in hopes of returning to playing sports.




They likely aren’t aware of the determination of a 13-year-old who months earlier had asked for agility equipment for Christmas so he could become even better at football, basketball and baseball.

“Landyn’s hope is to get back on the football team,” said his mother, Daisy. “He’s got that drive.”

An infection delayed his recovery for five months, but Landyn’s begun physical therapy and is focused on someday competing alongside friends he’s teamed with to win youth football tournaments since fourth grade. Just when that may be depends on his rehabilitation.

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“No matter how long it takes, just get back out there,” Landyn said of his time line.

It’s been seven months since May 31, when the Keiser family believed it would be settling back into a normal routine. Oldest son Tanner was married a week earlier. Landyn had just returned home from Omaha after a weekend spent watching friends play in a baseball tournament.

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Daisy was mowing the yard at their rural Fordyce home when Landyn hopped into a Yamaha Viking utility vehicle to take the family’s dog to a nearby pond to play in the water. Daisy had finished mowing when the dog returned alone.

“It just didn’t feel right. I knew something was wrong,” Daisy said.

She headed in the pond’s direction and found Landyn, who had hit a small gully he’d driven over several times before. Only this time when he drove over it, the vehicle flipped and rolled on top of him, pinning his legs underneath. Daisy called 911 and, while waiting for ambulances to arrive, called her brother-in-law, who came with help to lift the 1,500-pound vehicle off of Landyn, who by that time had been trapped for about an hour.



Landyn Keiser

Landyn Keiser does physical therapy with Josie Stockland at the Sanford Fieldhouse in Sioux Falls in November. After losing much of the muscle in his lower legs in a May 31 accident, Landyn can once again walk with the aid of a walker.




The backs of Landyn’s thighs suffered third-degree burns, caused by the vehicle’s hot metal roll bar pressing against his skin. The bar had cut off circulation to his lower legs, and when the vehicle was lifted, the blood rushed back, causing compartment syndrome. He was flown by helicopter to a Sioux Falls hospital, where a surgeon cut tissue in Landyn’s calves, opening muscle compartments to accommodate swelling.

“His first words after surgery were, ‘Will I be able to play football next year?'” Daisy said.

Two weeks after surgery, Landyn’s legs became infected, necessitating surgical procedures every two days to clean his wounds and remove dead tissue. He spent 30 days in the hospital, 13 of them in the ICU, and lost most of the muscle in his lower legs. Once out of the hospital, he returned twice a week from July through September to have dressings on his open wounds changed.

On Sept. 30, he underwent skin grafting surgery, one of the 48 procedures — 45 of them under anesthesia — he’s had on his legs. The fibula in his right leg was removed in November after the bone died.

Through all the trips to Sioux Falls, family and friends have chipped in, staying with Landyn while Daisy and husband, Judd, were at work, helping care for their daughter Camryn, who was born four months before the accident, and getting 11-year-old son Keaton to and from his activities. Community members brought food. Churches and area towns had fundraisers. Countless folks reached out with messages of encouragement.

“We’re fortunate to live in the community we live in,” Judd Keiser said. “People understand, and they’re there for support.”

Landyn’s friends are frequent visitors, helping provide the motivation to recover.

“I have really great friends that have been there for me,” he said. “They’ve been really awesome.”

He’s also had a rehab partner in brother Jacob, a sophomore at Wayne State College who’s had two surgeries since breaking his leg in September playing football for the Wildcats.

Landyn’s wounds are healing, and he goes to physical therapy in Sioux Falls two or three times a week. He can walk with the aid of a walker. On Tuesday, he attended class in person at Hartington Cedar Catholic, where he’s a seventh-grader, for the first time since the accident.

“He’s definitely on the road to recovery,” Daisy said.

The lost muscle won’t grow back, but exercise can help his remaining muscles compensate. Doctors have told the family that Landyn’s young age will aid his recovery, but they’re unable to say if and when he’ll be able to resume sports.



Landyn Keiser

Landyn Keiser shoots baskets during a physical therapy session at Sanford Fieldhouse in Sioux Falls in November. After suffering a traumatic injury to both legs on May 31, Landyn’s goal is to return to playing football, basketball and baseball.




“His prognosis is left open. We need to see what he can do,” Daisy said. “They won’t rule out anything being he’s a 13-year-old kid.”

Landyn will have surgery this month or next on his right foot to enable it to bend properly and improve his walking. Daisy said once the surgery is completed and Landyn can walk better, he can push himself more in therapy.

Not that he isn’t already. During a recent appointment, while Landyn balanced between parallel bars, the therapist asked him to shoot baskets on a hoop. Thrilled with the sports-related activity, Landyn shot over and over again.

Family has helped him through this ordeal, Landyn said, followed closely by the goal of competing with his friends again.

With his motivation to get back on the playing field, it wouldn’t be surprising if the next time his name appears in the paper, it’ll be in the sports section.

A big smile spreads across his face at the suggestion.

“That would be pretty cool,” he said.

Just walking or running normally again would be quite a story. A return to sports? That would be even cooler.

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