Thursday, October 7, 2010
Former Dallas Cowboy Robert Newhouse proving to be champion in life following stroke
Newhouse's wife, children, former coaches, and teammates have all been encouraging and supportive throughout his journey to full recovery.
Robert Newhouse is one of the few athletes within the Dallas Cowboy team’s franchise who carry the elite title of a football superstar and legend. Newhouse began his professional football career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1972, where he was the second round draft pick. During his football glory days, nicknames like “The House” and “The Human Bowling Ball” were given to describe his incomparable physical strength as a fullback and running back throughout his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.
Fans everywhere admired his amazing 44-inch thighs, which made it impossible for opponents to knock him down. On July 7, 2010, Newhouse suffered a stroke and it was also unsuccessful in knocking him down.
After having dinner with his wife Nancy of over 30 years, Newhouse began to feel ill and attributed it to complications with his diabetes with which he was diagnosed eight years ago. Newhouse drove home and his wife immediately called the paramedics after he began to lose his balance and stumble. Astonishingly, Newhouse was able to walk into the hospital on his own and was unaware he had suffered a stroke until the following day.
“My left side was numb and I had no feeling or control. I could not move my leg or my arm,” adds Newhouse in a phone interview.
Newhouse was released from the hospital on August 25, 2010 after spending over a month in the hospital recuperating from his stroke.
The former Cowboy faces new challenges and is committed to the physical therapy program at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation. Newhouse meets with a physical therapist once a week for almost eight hours. The physical therapy involves: speech, occupational, and aquatic therapy.
“I cannot use my left arm or walk. It is hard for me to push a cotton ball and I know the reality is it is going to take time because I am in many ways starting over,” explains Newhouse.
According to the American Heart Association, African Americans are 1.8 times likely to suffer a stroke than Caucasians and stroke is the number three killer among African Americans.
In a March 2007 Reader’s Digest publication, it lists the action plan to follow if you think a person is suffering from a stroke by using the acronym F.A.S.T:
Face - A stroke can cause one side of a person’s face to droop, loss of vision, and or sudden severe headache with no known cause or warning signs;
Arms - Ask person to raise both arms; other symptoms involve loss of balance, sudden fall, paralysis, numbness, and/or weakness on one side of the body;
Speech - Ask person to repeat a simple sentence because many stroke victims speech will be slurred, or they will have trouble speaking/understanding and;
Time - If the person has any of these symptoms, call 911. Stroke is a life-or-death emergency in which every minute counts.
To have any hope of reversing the effects, a patient must get Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) within three hours or the Merci Retriever procedure within eight hours.
“It is important to go to the doctor when something is wrong and go have a check-up on a regular basis. Also it is very important that we educate ourselves on the warning signs, so a person knows when something is wrong,” advises Newhouse.
Physical therapy is not the only thing Newhouse is relying on with respect to getting back to full health. His faith, family, and friends are also critical components to his recovery. Newhouse's wife, children, former coaches, and teammates have all been encouraging and supportive throughout his journey to full recovery.
“I am blessed to have a great family of wonderful caregivers. It has also been encouraging to hear from my former high school and college coaches, as well as former teammates like Roger Staubach, Too Tall Jones, and Drew Pearson.”
After retiring from football, Newhouse joined the Dallas Cowboy organization where he served in Alumni Affairs and in the role of Player Development where he worked with new teammates to help them successfully transition into becoming a professional athlete. Newhouse retired from the Dallas Cowboy organization after serving a total of 29 years (12 years as an athlete and 17 in administration).
“Robert Newhouse has always been a very important part of our family. Robert happens to be one of the few individuals who have made such a contribution to the Dallas Cowboy organization both as a player and an administrator. He is a man who led by example both off and on the field and the significant contributions he has made will be invaluable to the Dallas Cowboy players for generations,” states, Rich Dalrymple, Dallas Cowboys' vice president of public relations.
Newhouse must now wear a pacemaker and defibrillator and has to walk with a cane. Although, he has encountered some physical changes, his will and determination has not changed.
The same champion who made an incredible play when he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass in Super Bowl XII, which led to a win over the Denver Broncos, is still making incredible plays just on a different field, the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation. And like the football field this new field has cheerleaders on the sideline cheering him onto victory.
“Robert Newhouse is a humble man and a man of great character. I am honored to call him my friend and he is a true champion both on the field and off,” states Anthony Bonds, chairman of the Irving Education Coalition (IEC) and founder of the Irving NAACP Chapter.
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