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Blythedale's Aquatic Therapy Proving To Be Very Helpful For Children Recovering From Stroke

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People often speak of the healing power of water. One young upstate New York boy is learning how true that is first hand.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez has the story of how water is helping 7-year-old Easton Gorr recover from a stroke.

Easton's stroke was caused by a blood vessel malformation that ruptured in his brain. It left him profoundly impaired, but the remarkable care he received at Blythedale Children's Hospital in Westchester County brought him back.

A big part of that is aquatic therapy.

Aquatic therapy
Aquatic therapy at Blythedale Children's Hospital in Westchester County appears to be working wonders for 7-year-old stroke sufferer Easton Gorr. (Photo: CBS2)

The therapy pool at Blythedale has become one of Easton's favorite places. It's heated to 93 degrees, which relaxes tight muscles. Water also provides ideal conditions for physical therapy.

"The pool offers an environment that is very unique and that the water has buoyancy to it and it provides resistance at the same time," Blythedale's Paige Sollecito said.

The aquatic and other forms of therapy have made a remarkable difference in Easton's recovery. It was just five months ago that he and his other were getting ready to go shopping for a Halloween costume.

"He sneezed and he looked at me and said, 'Mom, my head hurts.' And his whole body just kind of went stiff and he went unconscious," Jenna Gorr said.

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Easton had been born with an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in his brain called arteriovenous malformation, or AVM for short. It ruptured, causing a massive stroke. According to neuropsychologist Dr. William Watson, it left him severely impaired.

"The right side of his body, he was barely even able to tolerate much handling or touch and not very much movement," Watson said.

Easton's motor skills have gradually come back. He walked over to see his mother while he was talking to CBS2's Gomez, something he wasn't able to do at all a few months ago. His language is better, although he had the typical 7-year-old's brief answers.

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Easton's language has improved with intensive speech therapy. It has been a difficult road for him. Still, his mom said it's amazing how far he's come in just a few months.

"He went from laying in the bed and not talking; now he's chasing his sisters. It's pretty good to see," Jenna Gorr said.

Due to his young age, Easton's brain still has a lot of what doctors call "plasticity," meaning it has a lot of ability to rewire to compensate for the damage it suffered when his AVM bled. He'll probably get much of his motor and speech skills back. As for his higher cognitive skills, that will have to wait until he gets older.

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