HANOVER, N.J. – Eric LeGrand remains undaunted and committed to once again walking, a vow that looks more promising with the amazing progress he's made in recent weeks.
It will be five years this fall since the former Rutgers defensive lineman took his last steps, and the rehabilitation process is showing signs of turning a corner. On Tuesday, LeGrand tweeted out a video showing him in his wheelchair moving slightly and stretching his back. This was unthinkable years ago in the immediate aftermath of his injury when it was feared he might never walk again.
“We're grinding man, getting this back moving. This is just another progress that I'm doing,” LeGrand said on Wednesday. “I like to update people every now and then, a few months ago. I really got a good lean-in and moving my back muscles and was like 'Can you take a video of this?' I think I need to post this and update everybody and show them how my muscles are getting stronger and things are still continuing to come back. Four-and-a-half years after my injury but things are still coming back, slowly but surely.”
Three times a week, two-hours each day, LeGrand goes for therapy at Kessler. When he's not there, he continues his rehab at home. He remains undaunted in his personal belief that he will walk one day.
Progress has accelerated over the past two weeks, LeGrand said, when they leaned him forward and he sat up on his own. He is now able to bring himself down and up on his own and take his arms off the arm rest on his wheelchair.
It sounds like such a small thing, but for someone who hasn't walked since his injury it is a sign that he is on the right path. The next step is to continue the electrostimulation muscle developer shocking so that his bicep can continue to grow stronger. When that happens, he'll be able to feed himself and do more functions on his own.
LeGrand, a big soccer fan, spoke to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday and he will deliver the game ball for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Galaxy to raise awareness for the Wings For Life World Run taking place May 3. He remains a committed fundraiser for spinal cord related injuries.
His message to the team was all about his experiences.
“I think I have more believers now after talking to them,” he said. “I was just looking at their faces and every time I was telling them something sad, you could see it on their faces. The message looks like it got across to them, just find an appreciation on life and work hard on everything you have because you never know when it could end. I think it got across to them. I think it did judging from their reactions when I told them the story.”
LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury on Oct. 16, 2010 while attempting to make a special teams tackle in a game against Army at MetLife Stadium. Since then, LeGrand has been paralyzed but his life story and determination to one day walk-again has inspired a nation.
He's graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and in 2012, won the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
On Friday night, LeGrand will partner with Chris Carlin to call the action from Rutgers' spring game. But his priority will always be to take a step on his own again.
“You see everything being done in this world, all the research, all the different clinical trials – it just takes the money so we can keep trying these different things,” LeGrand said. “Now in 2015, I can just imagine what it's going to be like in 2020, 2025, all the technology going on. It's crazy to think, before I got hurt there was no Instagram, Twitter – I didn't have a Twitter. I didn't have an IPhone, I had a Blackberry and now look in four-and-a-half years, look at where technology has gone since 2010 to 2015. It's unreal. So I can imagine what it's going to be like if we can just continue to fund this so these doctors can go to work.”