“It’s like a miracle,” Denise Roth said after watching husband Mark Roth, a Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer and one of the greatest bowlers in history, walk unaided on the approach and throw a 12-pound bowling ball for the first time in more than 14 months.
Since Roth, 59, suffered a massive stroke in late May 2009 that left the left side of his body paralyzed, he has refused to give up the fight to regain his life. His first public appearance following his stroke was at the GEICO Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship in late March in West Babylon, N.Y., which motivated him to continue his rehabilitation. He followed that appearance with a trip to Columbus, Ohio, in April where he spent several days with his former PBA Senior Tour competitors.
Last week, with the assistance of a recently-developed device called a “WalkAide” that provides electronic stimulation to eliminate a common stroke condition called “drop foot,” the 34-time PBA Tour champion made another milestone leap forward. With the WalkAide, he was able to lift his left foot almost normally and walk “without tripping over his toes,” Denise Roth said. And with the ability to stand and walk on his own, Roth decided to test the device on a bowling lane in Fulton, N.Y., where he quickly worked his way up from a 6-pound ball to a 12-pounder, Denise said.
“Mark had use of the device for a seven-day trial and it was amazing,” Denise said. “He could walk faster and farther than any time since his stroke. He actually bowled with confidence. He was getting around 100 percent better, which helped him get some badly-needed exercise.
“He had to turn the WalkAide back in after the trial period, so now we have to wait to see what the insurance company says (about getting it back),” she added. “It’s a wonderful device. It actually took some of his hip pain away, too.”