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Rutgers football star Eric LeGrand appears to have passed a major milestone in his recovery from a paralyzing hit on the field last fall. New Jersey reporter Brian Thompson has exclusive details after meeting with number 52 today.
Injured Rutgers football star Eric LeGrand, a quadriplegic since making a tackle in last year's game against Army, told NBC New York in an exclusive interview that he can now feel spasms in his fingers.
By tilting back his hi-tech wheelchair, LeGrand showed publicly for the first time how his fingers quiver.
"The muscles are ready to go, all I am waiting for is the nerves now," LeGrand said.
The tackle last October left LeGrand on the field, paralyzed from the neck down.
But months of intense physical therapy, first at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J., and then at an aunt's home in Jackson Township, have him moving his shoulders and feeling his fingers when he induces them to spasm.
"I believe I'll run, I'll run again," said the defensive lineman, who has adopted the word "bElieve" as his own.
He still thinks about the game that dashed his dream of an NFL career, and how he wants to run down the field and hit somebody.
But LeGrand quickly adds: "It doesn't bother me."
He quickly learned how to tweet, and now has more than 11,000 followers who track his progress.
He does it with a sophisticated voice recognition program on his laptop computer and usually tweets every day.
"People everyday say a prayer for me -- means the world," LeGrand said.
Moving into an apartment near his mother's Woodbridge home puts him closer to family, friends and school. Since his injury, there has also been a constant fund-raising effort to help him out.
This Saturday, the focus will be on 52 Fest, after his jersey number.
It will be an all-afternoon festival of music at Woodbridge's Sewaren Park, with organizers asking for a donation of $20 per person or $10 for kids.
Go to 52fest.com for details.
Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY