A New York man was paralyzed in a bike crash. Now, he can walk 1.5 miles and dreams of Paralympics.

A New York man was paralyzed in a bike crash. Now, he can walk 1.5 miles and dreams of Paralympics.

USA News

A New York man once paralyzed in a 2020 accident can now walk again.

In late October 2020, Cory Moses of Brooklyn was having a “regular” Sunday. But while on a bike two blocks away from meeting his then-partner for brunch, he was hit by a car.

A parked car opened a door into Moses, pushing him into the street, where he was hit by another vehicle. The accident resulted in two broken arms, six fractured ribs and a fractured spine, which left the then-25-year-old paralyzed.

“There was a lot of damage done,” Moses told USA TODAY. He added that, while the state of his injury and a twitch in his leg suggested the possibility for recovery of minor movements, he was initially told that he probably wouldn’t walk again.

Still, there was hope, and Moses was dedicated to his recovery.

“It was very much a changing point for me,” Moses said. “It was a lot to deal with in the beginning. But while I was in ICU for a couple weeks, I just accepted where I was and understood that I survived because of a greater purpose… (My) mission was to understand what that was and who I was going to be after this.”

Following the accident, Moses underwent a total of five surgeries. At Mount Sinai Hospital, he had his final two surgeries and extensive physical therapy.

Dr. Angela Riccobono, director of rehabilitation psychology at Mount Sinai and one of Cory’s doctors, applauded her patient’s perseverance and “most positive mindset out of the gate” after his “life changed in a matter of seconds.”

“Cory is such a special young man. I’ve been doing this job for almost 30 years and I’ve never met anybody like him,” Riccobono told USA TODAY. “After an injury like this, (many people) become overwhelmed by the uncertainty… But instead, Cory embraced uncertainty as an opportunity for growth… He didn’t define himself by his limitations, but by his possibilities – at such an early stage in a traumatic injury, it was profound.”

Taking those first steps, again

After spending months building his strength to stand up and move his legs again, Moses said he took his first steps in July or August of 2021. He later continued to progress outside of the physical therapy facility, using crutches and leg braces to aid his walking.

“I just practiced around my apartment up and down my block… until I was able to get further,” said Moses, who added that he can now walk about a mile and a half. He uses his wheelchair when needed, but “right now, my primary mode of getting around is walking (with) my forearm crutches.”

Riccobono, who continues to work with Moses today, said that it’s important to note that there are “two stories” for cases like Moses’ – both the realities of physical recovery depending on the injury and “the psychological well-being to enable you to reach your potential.”

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“(It’s not) ‘If you have the right attitude, you’ll be able to walk’… If there’s complete damage to the spinal cord, at least with today’s science, no matter what your attitude is, you’re not going to be able to walk. Cory had an incomplete injury, which allowed for recovery,” said Riccobono.

“There are people with incomplete injuries that also don’t progress the way Cory did… (But) he gave everything his all. He believed in himself, and surrounded himself with people that believed in him,” she continued. “Honestly, I believe that Cory would have been OK, no matter what the outcome… because of his mindset. It wasn’t, ‘I have to walk. And that’s the only outcome I can live with.’ He was willing to live fully with whatever happened.”

Both Riccobono and Moses underline that recovery progress is continuing to go well.

Moving on after the accident

Moses now works part time at a technical high school, teaching robotics and tutoring. He’s also continued to stay very active. For example, he picked up sports fencing over a year ago and is preparing for his second competition in North Carolina next weekend. His goal is to eventually go to the 2024 Paralympics.

When reflecting on these life-changing events for almost two years, Moses expressed that he was grateful for his own personal growth and the strong mindset he’s built to “withstand challenges like this.”

“I’d really like my future self to always remember that having a strong, clear mind makes it easier to see the future. Always,” he said.

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