A New York man can walk again after being paralyzed for over a year following a car accident while riding his bike.
On October 25, 2020, Cory Moses was riding his bike to meet with his then partner.
Suddenly, a car door swung open, which knocked him off his bicycle and threw him into an oncoming car. The accident left him a fractured spine, six broken ribs, and two broken arms. The injury to his spine left him paralyzed.
“I remember not wanting to look down. I thought my lower half had been severed,” Moses said. “The lower half of my body was at a weird angle and I definitely knew something was wrong.”
Moses went through three surgeries and spent two weeks in the ICU. Before his first surgery, Moses was told that he may never walk again. But after it was over, although he wasn’t able to move his left leg, he could slightly move his right leg. This brought hope to him and his medical team.
“[The surgeon] said that with that, there was still some connection,” Moses said. “They couldn’t tell how much of a recovery I’d make, but I’d get something back.”
After his first three surgeries, Moses was transferred to The Mount Sinai Hospital, where he endured two more and spent almost three months recovering.
Moses knew how severe his injuries were, but he wasn’t going to give up. During his time at the hospital, he took on his rehabilitation work as a full-time job. He learned how to navigate life in a wheelchair. He practiced on an exoskeleton program, which is a machine that helps patients with spinal cord injuries relearn how to walk.
“I put a lot of work into making my recovery fun,” he said. “I never wanted it to feel like a chore.”
Dr. Liz Pike, a physical therapist, mentioned how Moses came back to the hospital for physical therapy after being discharged in January 2021.
“It takes a lot of time for the body to heal just from a neurological injury and he put in the work and really listened to his body and did all the steps and kind of built the foundation blocks to get the bigger movements, like walking and balancing,” Pike said.
“He took his off time to work on strengthening and stretching and just being healthy in general, like eating well.”
Moses set a goal for himself of being able to walk before the one-year anniversary of his accident. He achieved this goal last October when he took his first steps on his own in his apartment.
“I remember feeling really proud of myself,” he said. “It just reassured me that really having a strong mentality makes a difference.”
Dr. Angela Riccobono, a psychologist and director or rehabilitation psychology at Mount Sinai, worked with Moses and said she’s never seen someone overcome adversity with “such grace and a positive mindset.”
“He understood early on that with the right mindset and the right people around you, there was little that could stop him,” she said.
According to Pike, Moses has gone far enough to be able to walk as far as 10 city blocks all on his own.
“I think they were hopeful he would be able to use some assisted device to do some standing and some activities like that but were unable to say how far he’d be able to walk, like he is now,” she said.
Moses still uses crutches and leg braces to walk long distances. He does rely on a wheelchair at times, but continues to build on his strength.
He now lives on his own and works at a local school. He plans on competing in the Paralympic Games in fencing, a sport that Moses always wanted to do as a kid.
After the accident, he got his chance to try fencing with the help of his friend, Curtis McDowald, a member of the U.S. Fencing team for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He invited Moses to a training facility in New York City.
Moses committed himself to the sport and took home two medals in his first competition in January in California.
“I’m the type that whenever I do something,” Moses said. “I want to do it to the maximum.”
Moses has come a long way since his accident. It just goes to show that anyone can achieve the impossible even when the odds are stacked against you.