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Man with Genetic Condition Sheds Over 100 Pounds and Gains Independence

By Ability Beyond

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Bethel, CT - Early in life, Brian Miguel was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a complex genetic condition that affects many parts of the body. In addition to intellectual disability and short stature, hormonal symptoms include constant hunger. His insatiable appetite led to obesity and other health issues that confined him to a wheelchair. Then his life was transformed when a team at Ability Beyond guided him through an incredible weight loss of 106 lbs. in two years. Today, Brian, age 51, is self-confident and walking independently.

Brian’s inspiring journey started when he moved to one of Ability Beyond’s residential homes in Brookfield, Connecticut in 2017. It is a licensed Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) with six clients of varying skill levels. Ability Beyond supports individuals with developmental disabilities with programs in Connecticut and New York, ranging from supportive residential living to meaningful employment and educational and social opportunities.

“Moving into NPR was a difficult transition for Brian, as it is for many of the people we serve, who are living independently for the first time,” explained Jane Davis, President & CEO of Ability Beyond. “But with the compassionate care, help and support of the staff members, Brian began to feel at home.”

The team members at NPR that developed a comprehensive plan to put Brian on the path to wellness included:

A nutritionist who developed an 800 calorie menu and provided strategies for Brian and staff to meet his nutritional needs as well as promote weight loss.
A physical therapist who worked with Brian on progressive exercise and mobility training through an active and progressive home exercise program consisting of both cardio and strength training. The therapy runs about 1 hour per day.
A behavior clinician worked with Brian to develop healthy coping strategies.

“The specialists developed the plan, but day-to-day implementation is administered by the seven person staff onsite,” said Davis. “Brian completely relies on the team to maintain his weight. All meals are prepared and plated by staff, as Brian's disability does not allow him to participate, and access to food is limited and monitored.”

Davis notes the dietician allows Brian to make suggestions to his meals and allows changes suggested by Brian if appropriate to his needs. The staff led by Tim Plyler is very creative when it comes to planning meals to ensure food is appetizing and satisfying. Brian’s favorite foods are pizza and hamburgers.

Thanks to his weight loss, Brian’s blood pressure is well-controlled, he no longer needs a bipap machine for oxygen at night and his gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD symptoms have disappeared. Brian no longer has chest pain or shortness of breath and no longer needs medications to control his blood pressure or GERD.

Brian’s daily activities through participation in Ability Beyond programs include Theater Group, attending church services with his mother, a vigorous daily physical therapy regime, helping around the house, and playing games on his I-Pad.

“Brian is truly a different person now. He is independent, happy and motivated,” concluded Davis. “Losing a large amount of weight and maintaining a healthy weight is challenging for anyone, but for people with underlying physical and cognitive conditions it takes a team to succeed. Everyone is so proud of how far Brian has come.”

Ability Beyond is a 501{c} (3) organization headquartered in Chappaqua, NY and Bethel, CT. It provides a wide range of services for over 3,000 people with a disability that inhibits their activities of daily living -- including numerous residential alternatives, employment training, career counseling, job placement services, cognitive and life skills instruction, clinical and therapeutic support, and volunteer and recreational activities. Today, its services extend throughout Connecticut and New York’s lower Hudson Valley. For more information about Ability Beyond go to www.abilitybeyond.org.

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