ST. PAUL, Minn. – Actor Kevin Sorbo is best known for his television portrayal of Hercules, a muscle-bound hero who battles the forces of evil. But almost no one knew he was also waging a secret battle – on and off the set – after an aneurysm and a series of strokes left him partially blind and with nearly debilitating dizziness, nausea and weakness when he was only 38 years old. For the first time, Sorbo is sharing his story and recovery in the latest issue of Neurology Now®, the American Academy of Neurology’s award-winning magazine for neurology patients and caregivers as well as in his new book, True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life (October 2011, Da Capo Press).
“I went through two years of hell before I began to feel like myself again,” said Sorbo, who is now 52 years old.
Sorbo’s health took a bizarre and unexpected turn in 1997, when out of the blue he began experiencing pain, aching, tingling and cold sensations in his left arm. One day, he had a searing pain down his left shoulder, soon followed by blurry vision and dizziness. By the time he got out of bed the next morning, his speech was slurred, and he could barely walk.
After being treated by a neurologist, it was determined Sorbo had had an aneurysm and three strokes. However, the precise cause of the strokes remains unknown. Weeks after being released from the hospital, Sorbo experienced continuing vision problems and overwhelming fatigue. Sorbo’s hours on the set of Hercules, the most-watched television show at the time, were limited and Sorbo’s production studio carefully concealed his condition by bringing on guest stars and rewriting scripts to work around Sorbo’s limitations.
Today, Sorbo has regained his health, although he still experiences residual arm pain from the circulation loss and nerve damage, the occasional migraine and a 10-percent blind spot with his vision. Still, he has resumed his active lifestyle, received critical acclaim for his recent film Soul Surfer, has several movies in post-production and is working on a television pilot.
“My illness made me special in a way that I never wanted nor expected,” Sorbo told Neurology Now. “I’m not Hercules; I’m a mere mortal with human limitations and problems. But I am determined to not behave like a victim anymore.”
Learn more about Sorbo’s story in the latest issue of Neurology Now.The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 24,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com and