The determination and desire to win that Kevin “Phwap” Boudreau displayed on the poker table is also highly evident in the young poker pro’s efforts in attempting to overcome a brain hemorrhage suffered just four months ago.
While competing at the WSOP in Las Vegas in June, Boudreau fell victim to cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is best described as an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain. After being rushed to the hospital and undergoing two brain surgeries and spending about a month in long-term acute care, the Boudreau family reports that the 25-year-old poker pro continues making progress in intensive rehabilitation therapy.
“He works so hard every day and endures so much pain and discomfort, but he’s determined to succeed,” his father, Jim Boudreau, told PokerUpdate.
Despite some setbacks in rehab following the second surgery, Boudreau is progressing at a faster pace than expected. Considering that there was some mention of the possibility that Phwap may never open his eyes again after the blood clot was initially discovered, the Boudreau family is both grateful and optimistic of the future.
Now back in his home state of Colorado, Phwap undergoes a rigorous rehabilitation schedule 5-6 days each week. A typical day begins with him getting dressed at 7:30 a.m. for physical therapy that starts at 8:00 a.m. Boudreau has progressed to the point where he helps himself get dressed on his left side and is also making strides in getting out of bed on his own.
About an hour of stretching exercises, coupled with a bit of standing and passive walking, is followed by a 30-minute rest period before speech therapy begins. Though Boudreau still has not been able to speak since the June 14 incident, his communication skills have improved through writing, pointing, the use of an iPad, and slight head movements to indicate “no.”
Following speech therapy and another well-deserved break, Boudreau takes on occupational therapy. The aim of this therapy is for Phwap to re-learn the everyday functions that most of us take for granted, such as washing up and brushing teeth. Unfortunately, the brain hemorrhage has limited Boudreau’s abilities to perform such tasks, especially on his right side.
Another physical therapy session in the afternoon is typically more strenuous than the morning rehabilitation activities. Boudreau walks on a treadmill with help from a harness positioned above. The walking motion is not of his own doing, but one of the goals of the therapy is that Phwap will one day be able to initiate the movement on his own. The afternoon physical therapy also consists of more stretching, as well as intense work moving his arms, feet, and balancing.
Boudreau continues to obtain his required nutrition through a feeding tube and has recently gained 10 lbs after falling to a low of 116 lbs. He’s still about 20 lbs shy of his normal weight of 145 lbs.
Jim Boudreau reports that his son is fully cognizant of his surroundings and the conversations that take place around him. Phwap has become more active in selecting television programs to watch and the family finds it “fun to watch him smile and laugh in his very unique way when something really strikes him,” the elder Boudreau said.
The road ahead is still a long one as the rehabilitation process may take more than two years. While Phwap may remain hospitalized until Thanksgiving, the family hopes that he will soon be allowed to continue this journey while living at home. It is anticipated that Boudreau will need assistance in performing the functions associated with daily living, but that he will continue to progress and be active in helping those that help him.
Boudreau’s parents and girlfriend Samantha maintain constant support and make sure that he has someone at his bedside at all times from the moment he wakes until turning in at night. The Boudreau family invites players or anyone so inclined to send inspirational emails to their courageous son at PHWAPmessages@gmail.com.
The initial goal of raising $50,000 to offset some of Phwap’s medical expenses has been met and surpassed by more than $14,000. However, donations are still being accepted at the youcaring.com website, as the financial burden of extensive therapy is likely to mount considerably.
“Kevin is fighting this battle with God’s helping hands and the love, support and prayers of thousands of friends, family, acquaintances and poker players from around the world,” said his father.