Following spine injury, athlete inspires fellow players

Sep 1 2011
In October 2010, Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand experienced a potentially devastating back injury, which sent him to hospital and a rehabilitation center for the next several months.

When he first went down on the field during a game with Army Black Knights, the prognosis was grim. After a neck surgery he underwent at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, USA Today reported that LeGrand had no movement ability from the neck down and was facing a possibility of paralysis.

However, step by step, the athlete began to defy the odds by making slow but steady progress towards regaining his mobility. In fact, he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "I've been able to stand for up to 40 minutes, and per hour about an average of 30 to 35 minutes." The currently wheelchair-bound LeGrand added that he was planning to start engaging in treadmill training to strengthen his legs to be able to walk again.

Despite the demands of his rehabilitation, he is also busy supporting and inspiring other players, as he recently visited the practice field for NFL's New York Jets, where he received a warm reception, according to the news source. AP reported that following the Jet's visit, LeGrand appeared at the media day event for his team, the Scarlet Knights, and announced that he would be present at every home game as well as any away games he can attend.

This story is just one example of the dangers to back and spine health that stem from playing sports like football, baseball and even golf.

While not all athletic traumas can be prevented, orthopedic experts stress the importance of proper warm-ups and cool-downs, both before practice and actual games, in order to prepare muscles and joints for exertion and reduce the risk of contusions.