Rutgers Football Player Eric LeGrand's Faces Paralysis

VIDEO: Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down during football game against Army.

The video is hard to watch. Rutgers University defensive back Eric LeGrand goes in head-first for a tackle and collapses on the 25 yard line, frozen from the neck down by a spinal cord injury.

LeGrand, a junior at Rutgers, is currently in the intensive care unit at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. He had emergency spinal surgery soon after the game. Rutgers announced that he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Paralysis can be a grave diagnosis, as seen in other high-profile cases. Christopher Reeve, who had become famous for his role as Superman, was paralyzed from the neck down after an equestrian injury in 1995. He remained in a wheelchair and on life support, becoming one of America's leading advocates for spinal injury research until he died in 2004.

But paralysis has brought other stories that seem to border on miracles. In 2000, Adam Taliaferro, then a freshman cornerback at Penn State, was paralyzed after making a tackle. Several doctors said that Taliaferro would never walk again. But four months later, he did just that -- and in 2001, he led his old team onto the field before a game to roaring applause from the crowd.

Taliaferro later founded the Taliaferro Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers emotional, financial and educational support to student-athletes who suffer catastrophic head or spinal injuries in sanctioned team events. Taliaferro's father has already reached out to LeGrand's family to say the foundation is there to provide any support the family may need.

"My advice to Eric is to focus on where he wants to be," said Taliaferro. "He's going to hear negative news, but he has to block that out. No one knows what he has inside him. He was playing [Division 1] football for a reason. He knows how to work hard, and he'll have the strength and tools to get through rehab."

And that rehabilitation road is a long one. As of Tuesday, doctors said there had been no change in Eric LeGrand's medical status after the spinal cord injury three days before. Even for the experts in the field, it's tough to say what's in store for him.

Spinal Cord Injury: What's Going on Inside

When an injury like LeGrand's occurs, the spine goes into a state of shock, in which it essentially shuts down. During this time, it is very difficult to tell whether the patient will be able to move again. Doctors usually know more about the injury itself after the shock to the system subsides, usually about 72 hours after the injury takes place.

Dr. Andrew Carsden, associate director of the Spine Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, said that spinal cord injuries are broken up into two categories: complete and incomplete. Taliaferro suffered from the less damaging of the two, an incomplete spinal cord injury; he showed at least a slight amount of function after his initial injury. If a person suffers a complete spinal cord injury, he will have absolutely no movement or sensitivity, making the prognosis much more grim.

"If there is any function at all after spinal shock, doctors won't know what the recovery will be," said Carsden. "It could dramatic, or it could be a very little improvement.

"If there is absolutely no function after the spinal shock has subsided, it's not good. It's as if someone took a knife and cut the cord."

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