Player now in spinal facility

ATLANTA - A South Gwinnett football player who suffered a spinal cord injury in September is now recovering at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Arquevious Crane, 16, was injured Sept. 20 after he caught a pass and was tackled during the fourth quarter of a junior varsity game against Buford, fracturing his spine.

Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, medical director of the center, held a press conference Thursday at the hospital to discuss the teen's condition.

"Mr. Crane, aka 'Q', is out of our ICU," Leslie said. "He transitioned from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and directly to our ICU."

Leslie said they will continue to monitor Crane's vital signs, but said he is out of intensive care and set to begin rehabilitation.

"He was transferred by stretcher to a room today (Thursday) and he asked to sit up, and he is in an electric wheelchair and will be learning how to drive that," Leslie said.

Doctors said Crane does not have significant movement or feeling below the level of his injury.

"He has partial function of his upper extremities and trace movement in his bicep and wrist," Leslie said.

While Leslie said Crane is doing better, the doctor said it is too early to tell if the 16-year-old will be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.

"Three to four percent of people who are thought to be complete are found to be incomplete," Leslie said. "So we test and retest. James Shepherd says Shepherd is the place where hope begins again. And how much 'Q' is going to change ... at this point we don't know."

According to Leslie, Crane's rehabilitation began the moment he was rolled through the doors of the Shepherd Center.

"I would think he'd be here about four to six weeks as an inpatient," Leslie said. "It will depend on what his needs are."

South Gwinnett's head football coach John Small said he had the opportunity to visit Crane Thursday and was inspired by how well the teen is doing.

"He's doing unbelievably well," Small said. "He's just got an amazing attitude and he's ready to get better."

Small said some of Crane's teammates have been to visit the teen and to offer words of encouragement. He said everyone is pulling for Crane's recovery.

"I think he gives me more words of wisdom than I can give him," Small said. "He knows he's loved and we all care about him. He's an inspiration and a joy to be around."

An assistance fund has been set up for Crane through Wachovia, Small previously told the Post. Donations can be made at any branch.

Leslie said a trust has also been set up for the teen at Bank of America, where donations can be made at branches throughout metro Atlanta.

The funds will be used to help pay for the teen's medical costs.