Jayson B A Determined Young Athlete Battles Back from Partial Paralysis

“I enjoyed Physical Therapy with my Therapist Zack the most!” shares Jayson. “The therapy was always fun. He would have me balance on one leg while we played Uno, we would play catch. It was awesome!”

In May 2019, Carol Backle began noticing facial weakness on the left side of her son, Jayson’s, face. After initially being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, Jayson began experiencing leg and hand weakness on his left side and was immediately sent to the emergency room. Once at the ER, Jayson Backle, an athletic and energetic thirteen year old, was told that doctors had discovered a brain tumor.

In July, Jayson went into surgery to remove the tumor that had formed in his brain, which led to hemiparesis, partial paralysis, on the left side of his body. After surgery, unsure of how significant his recovery was going to be, his parents’ insurance was pushing for Jayson to be admitted to a Long Term Care facility, which was not an option that his parents wanted to explore.

“I was not okay with sending Jayson into a Long Term Care facility after surgery,” shares Jayson’s mom, Carol Backle. “We quickly began looking into other options, and spoke with a representative at Children’s Specialized Hospital before Jayson was even out of ICU. After doing an online tour of the inpatient hospital in New Brunswick, I knew this was the best fit for Jayson; where he would get the type of care he needed to start his rehab and recovery, while being close enough for our family to be involved.”

Jayson recovering in the hospitalOn July 30th, 2019, just one week after surgery, Jayson was admitted to Children’s Specialized Hospital to start his rehabilitation to regain movement on his left side. While at CSH, Jayson had a rigorous therapy schedule, consisting of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.

“Jayson arrived at CSH with left sided hemiparesis, which can be very frustrating for someone his age with his high energy and activity level,” shares Zack Gubitosi, Physical Therapist. “From day one I could tell that this was a scary experience for him and his family, and I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible. I loved getting creative in my sessions by incorporating sports and activities he enjoyed as I found that makes exercise more enjoyable and encourages participation.”

An avid baseball and football fan, Jayson and his mom were thrilled with how Zack incorporated that into Jayson’s sessions. “I enjoyed Physical Therapy with my Therapist Zack the most!” shares Jayson. “The therapy was always fun. He would have me balance on one leg while we played Uno, we would play catch. It was awesome!”

“Jayson was always so motivated to get better and for a physical therapist, that is the best thing we can ask for from a patient!” shares Zack. “He took on every challenge I gave him and wouldn’t take no for an answer. There were understandably some difficult days for Jayson where he would be down about what was going on, and those were the days I would challenge him to fight harder and he was always up for the task.”

Jayson sleeping in the hospital bed“From the parent perspective, Jay was a three-sport athlete coming into surgery, so for Zack to not only have that sports background and interest, but to personalize sessions for Jayson by incorporating that love of sports, he was almost like a coach for Jayson and that really set the tone for the entire visit,” shares Carol.

During his stay, Jayson shares that he enjoyed being able to see his family and play board games with his Dad and brother in-between therapy sessions. Carol adds, “The facility was so open to families being involved when they could, which is amazing. He was never left alone, we made it a priority to always have someone there and the hospital was amazing about allowing that.”

Jayson also shares that the part of the hospital he enjoyed the most was being able to spend time outside in the garden areas, which gave him a feeling of normalcy during his stay. “I also know he really enjoyed the trips that were offered, especially walking to the ice cream place nearby,” adds Carol.

When asked what his advice would be for anyone on their own recovery path, Jayson says, “Don’t dwell on any of your bad thoughts or on why you’re not home yet. Think about all the good that is happening, even the littlest progression in recovery. Focus on that!”

Carol also shares her advice for parents, saying that once Jayson got into his room and settled, she brought his own sheets and blankets from home to make the environment as comfortable and homey as possible, “when you’re in the hospital recovering, you just want the comforts of home. The simple things from home helped him get through this time, as well.”

Jayson recovering in the hospitalAfter about seven weeks of inpatient care, Jayson was able to go home on September 12th, 2019. He continues to receive Occupational Therapy as an outpatient at Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Toms River Stevens Road location, working on the fine motor skills in his hand. “My goal is to maximize the return of the use of my hand,” Jayson shares.

Since being home, Jayson enjoys spending his time going to the gym, hanging out with his friends and playing video games. He is also involved in the Youth Advisory Council at Children’s Specialized Hospital. Meeting once a month, the council offers current and former patients the opportunity to answer questions and give their opinions on how to add to the patient experience at CSH. “I feel that the council’s goal is to make it as best of an experience for new, incoming patients as it can be,” Jayson says.

Jayson and his family continue to share their gratitude and appreciation for their experience with Children’s Specialized Hospital.

“We’re just so grateful for the care that Jayson was given there,” Carol shares through tears. “It was a really tough time for our family, and the staff was just amazing. We walked out of there so grateful for the experience. This experience could have been so much worse if we had not chosen to go where we did.”

Jayson playing football

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.