Just keep going

Back to life 08:58

On this day an occupational therapist was helping him make muffins. His movements were slow -- but with help he did it.

"Every day you see something new that's he doing that he wasn't doing before," Tracy said.

Cowan watched as he learned to write again, too, and work on his memory.

"I'm not beating you up too much?" asked his therapist. Through it all, even when it hurt, Dylan was always thumbs-up.

This past summer we decided to check back in on Dylan again ... and guess where we found him? Back at his high school track, where he's a volunteer assistant coach. "I do love it," he said.

Cowan asked, "On a scale of 1-10, where would you put your recovery?"

"Probably an 8. 8 or 9, yeah. I'm doing very well," Dylan replied.

We went to the YMCA with him, too, where Dylan does weight training at least once a week.

His father said, "It's amazing to see the amount of weight he can actually lift, because it took weeks and months just to get him to lift his right arm."

But that's not what Dylan is most proud of. When asked where he has made the biggest improvement, he replied, "I can talk much better. Before I would just go, 'Uh, yeah.' And it was just awkward."

"You can have a conversation now?"

"Yeah, I can."

"Everything happens a lot quicker in your head."

"Yeah. A little quicker. Slowly but surely, it's getting a little better. I'm good, but I'm not that good!"

"Pretty good to me!"

"Yeah, I know but I'm not that ... I'm very intelligent, but I want to be more intelligent. That's the difference."

He's the first to admit he's got a ways to go. Dylan's mom, Tracy, is careful to keep her expectations in check.

"I want him to be able to take care of himself in the future," she said. "And I know he would love to have a family someday, so that's something I'm hoping will happen for him."

"That's the goal now, is just more independence."

"More independence and a girlfriend. He wants a girlfriend!" she laughed.

Dylan's not ready for a full-time job. He can't live alone, because cooking remains a challenge -- and he still needs help managing his long list of medications and taking care of his wounds, which are still healing.

Joseph Giacino concedes there are parts of Dylan's brain that will likely never recover. But what Dylan's case suggests, he says, is that for some people, being in a vegetative state may not be as persistent as it was once thought.

"The evidence is that, for somebody with a disorder of consciousness, the condition is not going to be considered permanent until a year," Giacino said. "And now with this most recent data, we know that the small percentage, maybe 15%, will actually recover after one year."

His amazing journey has surprised everyone -- his friends, his family, and his doctors. The only person NOT surprised by it all is Dylan Rizzo himself.

Cowan asked, "You sort of knew that you were going to get better, didn't you?"

"Yeah, it was guarantee-able," Dylan replied. "I'm going to be better, that's it. Just keep going. That's what I always say, just keep going, that's it."

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