Jayson B A Determined Young Athlete Battles Back from Partial Paralysis

“Think about all the good that is happening, even the littlest progression in recovery. Focus on that!”

In May 2019, Carol Backle of Toms River noticed drooping on the left side of her son Jayson’s face. After evaluation by a doctor, the athletic, high-energy 13-year-old was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a weakness in facial muscles that’s usually temporary.

One day, however, Jayson experienced sudden weakness in his left leg and hand. At the local emergency department, tests revealed the reason: a tumor in his brain that was causing hemiparesis, a partial paralysis on the left side of his body. In July, Jayson had surgery to remove the tumor.

The family’s insurance carrier, unsure of how significant the teen’s recovery would be, strongly recommended that he be admitted to a long-term care facility.

“I was not OK with that,” Carol says. She immediately began to research other options and soon decided that an inpatient rehabilitation program at Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) in New Brunswick offered the type of care Jayson would need.

Up for the Task

“Hemiparesis can be very frustrating, especially for someone of Jayson’s age and high activity level,” says Zack Gubitosi, DPT, CSCS, a pediatric physical therapist at CSH. “I could tell this was a scary experience for him and his family, and I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible from day one.”

Gubitosi incorporated elements of the sports and games Jayson loves into their sessions. “He would have me balance on one leg while we played Uno. We would play catch,” says Jayson. “It was awesome!”

“Jayson was always so motivated to get better,” Gubitosi says. “There were understandably some difficult days, and those were the days I would challenge him to fight harder. He was always up for the task.”

After seven weeks of inpatient care, Jayson was able to go home. He continues to receive occupational therapy as an outpatient at the CSH Toms River location, working on fine motor skills. He’s able to enjoy his former activities, such as going to the gym, playing video games and hanging out with friends. He’s also involved in the Youth Advisory Council at CSH, which meets once a month to discuss ways to create the best possible experience for patients.

“We’re just so grateful for the care that Jayson was given,” Carol says. “We know this whole experience could have been so much worse if we had not chosen to go where we did.”

With the wisdom of experience, Jayson offers advice for anyone who is on their own recovery path. “Don’t dwell on any of your bad thoughts, ” he says. “Think about all the good that is happening, even the littlest progression in recovery. Focus on that!”

At Children’s Specialized Hospital, we provide world-class care for children and young adults who face special health challenges across the state of New Jersey and beyond. We treat everything from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities, like brain and spinal cord injuries, to a full scope of developmental, behavioral and mental health concerns. We have convenient locations throughout the state: Bayonne, Clifton, East Brunswick, Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton, Jersey City, Mountainside, New Brunswick, Newark, Somerset, Toms River and Warren.

For more information about Children’s Specialized Hospital, call 888-244-5373.