April 14, 2011
ATHENS-----University of Georgia junior outfielder Johnathan Taylor is getting stronger and making progress in his rehabilitation from a serious neck injury.
On Thursday, Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, medical director at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Dr. Kimberly Walpert, neurosurgeon of Georgia Neurological Surgery, and Georgia head coach David Perno, provided an update on Taylor. On March 6, Taylor was injured in a collision with a teammate during a game against Florida State. On March 7, Taylor had neck surgery at St. Mary's Hospital, performed by Dr. Walpert, to stabilize his spine. On March 11, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center where he is currently a patient.
Dr. Walpert explained that Taylor, a 5-8, 181-pound native of Acworth, had broken his neck in the collision with fractures of the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae in his spine. His spinal cord was bruised but not severed. Dr. Leslie said Taylor has made progress in the five weeks since he arrived at the Shepherd Center.
"He is an incredible young man," said Dr. Leslie. "He has received tremendous support from UGA, the coaches, the athletes, his friends and family. He is no longer on a ventilator, he's breathing on his own. He goes to therapy every day and is getting stronger. His muscles in his upper extremities are almost full. He gets up and out of bed independently every day. He's an athlete; he wants to go train. I think you'll see in the future that his progress is very good. We hope to see more improvement every day."
Taylor's in-patient stay at the Shepherd Center will be from four-to-six weeks and then he'll be in an outpatient day program. In the Day Program, Taylor would live in the Woodruff Family Residence Center located next to the Shepherd Center, and each day he would come over and continue his therapy. Dr. Leslie said Taylor will continue therapy for many weeks to come and will be functionally independent when he leaves.
Perno said he is optimistic about how Taylor is progressing.
"As a coach, you build relationships with your players, and J.T. (Johnathan Taylor) is a hard worker, the face of the program and the heart and soul," said Perno. "It's been exciting to watch the past three years, to see him grow as a student-athlete. Some said he wasn't big enough, or he can't do this or that, and he's proven all those people wrong. He's an Honor Roll student and influences young people at our camps and other community service events, and his teammates, telling them to take advantage of the resources we have at the University of Georgia and to keep up with their academics.
"You realize how fragile life is when you see what's happened with Chance (Veazey) and now J.T.," Perno added. "However, they are two guys who have no regrets because every time they were out there playing baseball, they gave 100 percent effort. Chance is in a good state, and J.T. is handling it well too. They will continue to get our support, we're all in this together."
A fund has been established to help with medical expenses. Fans can donate to the Johnathan Taylor Fund through the UGAA website, georgiadogs.com, at the spring football G-Day game Saturday, and at each home baseball game as Diamond Darlings will have a station set up outside the gates and will be in the stands collecting too. For more information, please click on this link: