Newcastle NRL forward Alex McKinnon has revealed he is getting more movement in his arms and has feeling in his legs four weeks after suffering his severe spinal injury in a tackle.
McKinnon on Friday provided a personal update on his progress in a video message on the Knights’ website.
“It’s been a tough month but there is a lot of improvement and lots of things that are keeping me going,” said 22-year-old McKinnon from his spinal rehabilitation ward at a Sydney hospital.
“I have obviously come a long way in the four weeks and I have a lot more movement in my right arm and a lot of movement back in my left arm.
“It’s just a matter of time before, hopefully, I have a bit more movement in my legs.
“I have a great sensation and feeling to my legs and it’s a lot of positive signs.”
He has been doing a lot of occupational therapy, including trying to pick up small objects, amid two physiotherapy sessions a day on his arms and legs.
“I was playing (board game) Connect Four yesterday so that was pretty fun – frustrating though, but fun,” said a frequently smiling McKinnon.
He expected to remain in the hospital for two more months before transferring to a rehabilitation centre at nearby Ryde to continue his recovery.
“Hopefully, the progression keeps going.”
McKinnon paid glowing tribute to his family and his long-time partner Teigan Power, to whom he became engaged in the days after suffering his devastating injury when he landed headfirst in a three-man lifting tackle while playing against the Storm in Melbourne.
“I think it was only last night I was saying ‘I wish I could do something else; I wish I was better’ and she (Power) said ‘You are better compared to two weeks ago; you were laying on a bed in Melbourne’,” he said.
McKinnon was extremely grateful to his Knights teammates who have been visiting him.
“One of the things I miss most is seeing the boys and being around them,” he said.
“Them coming in makes me so happy. It makes my week to tell the truth.”
He had so far only watched a couple of minutes of the Knights’ game against Cronulla in Newcastle the weekend after he was injured when the players and crowd paid a moving tribute to him.
“I was in tears straight away,” he said.
McKinnon said he’d been overwhelmed by the messages of support he’d received, including from people he’d never met, some from as far away as New Zealand and even Sweden.
“At the start, it was pretty overwhelming. I was in tears a fair bit. I just didn’t understand why so many people wanted to help me but (coach) Wayne (Bennett) made it pretty clear why so many people wanted to help me and I really would like to thank them eventually.
“Once I get through this little journey, I really do intend to go and see everyone. I’d like to thank them.”