British Columbia

B.C. man documents his journey to overcome cerebral palsy

Twenty-three-year-old Tyler Born is determined to beat the cerebral palsy that's caused him to walk with a serious limp his entire life, and he's documenting his progress on YouTube.

Tyler Born hopes to inspire others with his YouTube workout video blogs

Watch Tyler Born going through one of his workouts

6 years ago
Duration 2:48
The 23 year-old is trying to inspire others living with a disability with his sweat-soaked YouTube videos.

When you watch Tyler Born at the gym, it's hard to imagine him as anything but a life-long sports and fitness fanatic -- lean, mean and coated in tattoos.

But take a closer look at his right leg — the underdeveloped one with a serious limp — and you'll start to understand why that hasn't been his reality at all.

Born says he's struggled his entire life with limited mobility in his right leg. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

"The hardest thing is just walking," said Born. "For me it's a battle every day."

The 23-year-old from Abbotsford was born with cerebral palsy, a permanent disorder caused by a brain injury that impairs body movement and muscle coordination.

He was born a twin, but he says the umbilical cord got caught around his neck affecting the right side of his body.

Born says he hopes to one day be able to run or play a sport "without feeling pain". (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Born  says he was very fortunate compared to many others who live with cerebral palsy. He lives with what he calls a "mild case", and it mostly affects his leg.

"Even something as simple as walking up and down the stairs, I can still do it, but there's a lot of pain involved and I'll often fall over things," said Born.

He says it meant childhood was sometimes awkward. To the others at school he was the kid with the limp, and he often felt left out.

Born says growing up not being able to play the sports he loved was difficult. (Tyler Born)

It also meant he wasn't able to play all the sports he loved, especially basketball, and that hurt too.

Born's insecurities stayed with him into his late teens, where he turned to tattoos as a way to disguise the fact that one of his legs was visibly different.

Born says living with cerebral palsy affected his self image throughout his childhood and teens. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

"It was nice to have something to look at — where people weren't looking at how you were walking," said Born.

Simple goals

One morning this year, Born remembers waking up and making the decision to stop feeling sorry for himself.

"As I got older, I kind of thought to myself, what kind of attitude is that to have?" he said.

"You only have so many years to work to improve and try and make yourself better."

Much of his gym routine focuses on training his right leg with resistance bands and steps. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

Born started going to GoodLife Gym in Abbotsford, where he now works out several times a week.

He has one focus with his do-it-yourself physiotherapy sessions: To one day be able to walk without a limp.

He knows that won't be easy. It will take hours upon hours, likely over a period of years. It will have to be self-directed, uncomfortable, even painful physiotherapy.

Just even looking in the mirror and seeing progress is huge.-Tyler Born

One of Born's key exercises involves keeping his leg straight while stepping up and down from a six-inch box, something most people at the gym could probably do without thinking about it.

Born says his right kneecap is far too high, meaning many motions are still painful. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

"This make look simple, but for me this takes a lot of work," he said as he sweated and winced through a workout earlier this month.

"When I first started these, my knee was turning in a lot more than it is now, so just even looking in the mirror and seeing progress is huge."

YouTube inspiration stories

Born recently launched a YouTube channel where he now documents his progress at the gym.

The monthly videos Born captures on his GoPro camera reveal the physical changes to his leg and to the way he walks.

"The back muscles are getting a little bit bigger on this leg, slowly but surely, I'm super stoked about that," he said in one of the videos before launching into a series of tough leg exercises.

I want to make a difference.- Tyler Born

But more than just showing off his own successes online for a few friends, Born is hoping his videos will inspire others facing significant challenges in life. 

It appears he's reaching that goal. Family members of other people living with cerebral palsy have told him the videos are inspiring them too.

Born says it doesn't matter how many people watch his videos, he's just hoping they make a difference to someone else. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

"The biggest thing for me is I want to make a difference and help influence people," said Born.

"Even just thinking about it, I get so pumped. If you struggle with something your entire life, just to have that hope and that drive to to maybe one day accomplish that. That's what keeps me going."

Born is hoping his work at the gym will one day allow him to go hiking and play organized sports with his friends. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jared Thomas

Videographer/Editor

Jared Thomas is a videographer and editor for CBC Vancouver. His passions are for great visual storytelling, sports, and getting outside.

With files from Chris Corday

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