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A critical period for Eric LeGrand

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Coach Schiano is doing his best at the moment to quell internet and media speculation about Eric LeGrand's current medical status, pleading for privacy and patience. Everyone's natural impulse is that Greg's hope that Eric will eventually walk again proves correct. There's a definite danger to staying glued to your monitors on this. According to established medical knowledge, the first few days after any spinal cord injury constitute a critical period of volatile uncertainty, with few if any clear guidelines about what expectations or inferences are warranted. Rutgers fans are certainly in the mood for wishful thinking, and that is an environment ripe for raising false hopes.

And yet any struggle for restraint is inevitably a losing effort. I for one, while trying not to jump to any conclusions, still could not help pouring over every detail coming out yesterday regardless of a source's track record or past accuracy. Grounded information, like the quotes from the Hackensack University Medical Center press conference from the article linked above, proved quite useful in explaining many of the relevant factors that are likely to affect spinal cord injury patient outcomes. Rutgers University is fortunate to have a leading expert on the school faculty in Dr. Wise Young, and his insights from Steve Miller's article in the Targum are a must read.

The broader Rutgers athletics community has done an admirable job in responding to LeGrand's horrific accident. Equally welcome has been the overwhelming reaction from the broader sports universe and across the country and globe. Pittsburgh is doing their part as their football program prepares to host the Scarlet Knights this weekend. RU football has never had a great relationship with radio host Mike Francesa on WFAN (the station has a lot of alumni working behind the scenes however.) However, Francesa yesterday acted with the utmost class and dignity, and deserves to be commended on that account.

These actions and gestures are much appreciated. One can only hope that all of the compassion and well wishes will directly translate to strength for Eric and his family as they start to embark on his long path to recovery. Tangible support will be needed too, once the requisite NCAA red tape is handled.

If any good, any lasting positive change at all can come from this supreme misfortune (coupled with Sunday's spike in NFL brutality), it must come in the form of a commitment and duty for supporting effective high quality medical research. The scientific community toiled through decades of advances to even make it possible that a patient facing paralysis could contemplate living some semblance of a normal life. It will only be through continuing those efforts that this dream will ever come to pass.