NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Manhattan teenager has made a remarkable recovery from a stroke. Two years ago, he could not speak or walk.
Today, he credits technology, top-notch care, and a hit TV show with helping his progress, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.
“It wasn’t pretty. The right side had no movement. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t read. It was awful, right?,” Theo Applebaum said.
He’s just 16, but Theo has already faced a lifetime’s worth of physical and mental challenges.
“Because it was such a heavy thing — having a stroke at 14 — I didn’t want to deal with it sometimes, a lot of the times,” he said.
Complications from the stroke paralyzed his right side and broke his cognitive skills. His journey of recovery started with long months of rehab at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in the Westchester County town of Valhalla, and technology to heal his mind and body.
“Teenagers tend to love technology and there was a lot of technology used in your rehab. What was that like?” Aiello asked.
“I joked with my neuropsych that I was a cyborg, or something like that. Right now, I’m using the ‘stim.’ It helps me walk and all that,” Theo said.
Theo said on his down days, watching “Game of Thrones” became an obsession.
“Escaping my reality was a big part of it,” he said.
He created a portrait of star Emilia Clarke, who recently revealed she, too, has battled back from brain injury.
Like Game of Thrones, the cast behind Theo is enormous.
“He’s had lots of doctors and many, many nurses. Every single one of them have contributed to this project we have, or have walked along us on this journey,” said Lei Applebaum, Theo’s mother.
“There wasn’t a day that he didn’t want to work and give it 110 percent. Every therapy, every day,” Blythedale Dr. Kathy Silverman said.
Theo said this challenging episode taught him a simple lesson.
“Just savor everything. I guess it’s cheesy to say, but it’s true,” he said.
A true-life drama, with chapters still unscripted.
As part of his recovery, Theo used a hand-pedaled bike to travel 200 miles through Vermont last fall. His long-term goal is to be able to run a marathon.