Health & Wellness

Ex-Rutgers Football Player LeGrand Tells Seton Hall Audience: 'I Thought That Was the End'

September 17, 2013 at 1:54 PM

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Eric LeGrand, former Rutgers football star, vowed to return to the football field one last time when he spoke about his injury and his journey to walk again on Monday at Seton Hall University.

“And when I do rise from this chair, I will go back out to that field, right where I got hurt, and I’m going to get right back into that position, and get low-and I’m going to walk off that field and say, ‘I finished that play,’” LeGrand said.

Dr. Brian B. Shulman, dean of the School of Health and Medical Sciences, showed a short video about that day on the field, on Oct. 16, 2010, when LeGrand suffered the high-level spinal injury that paralyzed him in a game against Navy at MetLife Stadium.

Sign Up for E-News

Sandra “Buffy” Wojciehowski, a 2007 graduate of Seton Hall University, asked LeGrand about his first days at the hospital. LeGrand said he recalled everything that happened that day from the second he went down on the play to what he experienced throughout the first five days of being in the hospital.

“I couldn’t breathe, I kept gasping for air and I thought that was the end, that God was going to take me away now,” LeGrand said of the minutes after his injury. Paramedics and trainers got him onto the stretcher and into the ambulance in seven minutes.

At the hospital, LeGrand went into emergency surgery and then was put on a ventilator. He remained at Hackensack Hospital ICU from Oct. 16 to Nov. 3.

During the five weeks after his injury, Eric was slowly weaned off the ventilator and is now able to breathe by himself. On Nov. 3 he moved to Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange. His first night there he watched his team play South Florida, but by the end of the night something was not right.

“I needed to move a lot, I just couldn’t relax,” LeGrand said. Around midnight he fell asleep, and when he woke up he was on a stretcher headed to the hospital with a 105.5 degree fever that could have damaged his brain. Once the fever went down, Eric remembered asking his sister, “Can we go to I-Hop for breakfast? I’m hungry.”

On Nov. 8 he started his physical therapy at Kessler Rehabilitation Center with therapists including Wojciehowski and occupational therapy with therapists including Gabriella Stiefbold, who talked about LeGrand’s electric stimulation therapy.

“The electric stimulation therapy, which is used to help with muscles, is a part of an experimental pilot program Eric is enrolled in with three other people,”  Stiefbold explained. In addition, LeGrand spent an hour and a half in physical therapy sessions and an hour and a half in occupational therapy sessions five times a week. He has completed more than 300 sessions since his injury. But his journey is not over.

Today, LeGrand is in the outpatient program at Kessler and working toward his goal of walking back onto the field with his teammates. He said he is working hard every day at therapy, sitting up on a couch by himself and walking on the specialized treadmill with the help of his therapy team.

Saturday, the Rutgers team retired the No. 52 jersey, which has not happened in over 144 years, in honor of LeGrand. In an interview after his speech, LeGrand discussed his NFL career with the Buccaneers, which came about in May 2012. He was brought onto the team as a staff member and was told by the coach that he wished all of his players could have the spirit that LeGrand had. LeGrand said, “It was a dream come true to have an NFL contract with Tampa Bay.”

LeGrand has adapted in his everyday life. His new house is equipped with an air mattress bed that rotates him to a certain degree during the night so he does not develop bed sores. He also has a type of harness that his mother uses to transport him when his football friends are not there to “put him over their shoulder,” as LeGrand put it. He taught himself how to operate his chair with a joystick controlled by his chin/mouth and learned how to control his blood pressure so it would not rise when he stood up during therapy.

LeGrand founded Team LeGrand, which is partnered with the Dana and Christopher Reeve foundation for those 1.5 million people in the world with paralysis. This foundation is designed to raise money so that more people can have chairs like LeGrand’s, which he calls the “BMW of wheelchairs” and help find a cure one day for this injury.

To join Team LeGrand, there is a $52 donation and member benefits include an Eric LeGrand T-shirt and bracelet, updates on how LeGrand is doing and invitations to special events. To join, go to

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.



TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


South Orange Police Blotter - Burglary and Attempted Burglary Reported

January 23, 2017

South Orange Police Blotter as of January 23

Attempted Burglary - A Redmond Rd. resident reported on Wednesday,  Jan. 18, at approximately 4:50 p.m., actor(s) unknown smashed a window of the residence in an attempt to gain entry. This triggered the residence's alarm and police responded quickly. No entry was gained and the detective bureau responded to process the ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Four Thefts Reported, Two at Wawa

January 11 - Theft; At approximately 2:30 p.m., a female customer had her wallet stolen from the QuickChek after leaving it on the counter.

January 11 - Theft; At approximately 4:45 p.m. a female shoplifted a purse from a store on Maplewood Ave.

January 13 - Theft; At approximately 10:00 p.m., an employee of Wawa had their cell phone that was left on the counter ...

SOMA Residents Join Women's Marches in Washington, DC and New York City {Photos}

January 22, 2017

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Many SOMA residents participated in the Women's March on Washington and the Women's March on New York on Saturday, Jan. 21. 

Organizers estimate that 34 buses with about 1,900 people left from South Orange and Maplewood this morning heading to the march in Washington, DC.

Hundreds more traveled from SOMA to the Women's March on New York ...

South Orange Middle School Student Organizes March on South Orange on Saturday

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - About 200 people gathered at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the gazebo near the South Orange train station for a march on South Orange Ave. to Spiotta Park. The 'March on South Orange: A Student March for Peace, Unity, and Equality' was organized by Hudson Pollock, a seventh-grader at South Orange Middle School (SOMS).

Pollock's mother, Vanessa Pollock, ...

Hundreds From SOMA are on the Road to the Women's March on Washington

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - It was an early morning - a very early morning - for many in South Orange and Maplewood on Saturday, Jan. 21. Hundreds of people gathered before loading on to buses scheduled to leave from the Columbia High School parking lot in Maplewood at about 4:30 a.m., and from the NJ Transit lot by SOPAC in South Orange at about 5 a.m. 

Organizers ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, January 24, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, January 25, 10:30 AM

Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University, South Orange

Learning to Fly

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, January 25, 4:00 PM

Overlook Medical Center, Bouras Auditorium, Summit

Summit Schools Fine Art Exhibition Awards ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Wed, January 25, 6:30 PM

The Newark Club - Metropolitan Room, Newark

ACG NJ Joint Super Networking Party, January 25

Arts & Entertainment Business & Finance Food & Drink

Women's March on Washington: Why, and Why Now

January 11, 2017

As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws near, a number of groups are planning various events and rallies – perhaps most notably, the Women’s March on Washington. I have read a number of opinion pieces and spoken to many people about the March, and several questions and criticisms seem to consistently arise. I would like to address two of the major themes.

(Q) The election is ...

A Buyer's First Steps

So you think you may want to start house hunting in the Spring....Here are the first steps to take.

Know how much you can afford.  It's a waste of time to look at homes that are not in your price range. Talk to a few mortgage brokers to see who has the best interest rate and packages and what price range is best for your budget.

Contact me at or talk ...

Millburn-Short Hills Chamber Hosting 'A Taste of Millburn' Soiree Featuring South Orange's Ricalton's Tavern and Above Restaurant

January 23, 2017

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce is hosting 'A Taste of Millburn' Soiree on January 30 at the Short Hills Hilton. Many business owners, elected officials, and residents are expected to come out and enjoy the festivities. 

Area restaurants will serve up tasting size dishes to sample while attendees sip the signature Cranberry Frost Martini created just ...

Family of Special Needs Child Thank Union Police Officers

January 23, 2017

UNION, NJ – When Elsie Mackey worked with the Union Police Department on developing the Special Needs ID Card program, she had no idea she and her son would be the first to benefit from it.

Mackey’s son, twelve-year old Julian, has autism.  Earlier this month, his caretaker was running late and Julian entered his home alone after school.  The home alarm sounded and Julian ...

Women’s March in Westfield Attracts Thousands

WESTFIELD, NJ — People of every age, gender and ethnic background from around New Jersey gathered in Westfield Saturday for a “sister” march of the Women’s March on Washington.

Organizer Lydia Kaplan estimated that thousands of people participated.

“It was over and above my expectations,” said Kaplan, who earlier in the week had expected 100 to 200 ...

East Orange Appoints First Female Police Chief and Youngest Fire Chief in City History

January 23, 2017

EAST ORANGE, NJ - The City of East Orange is proud to announce that it has named Phyllis Bindi as the city’s first female police chief and Andre Williams as the city’s youngest fire chief. Both East Orange natives, Chiefs Bindi and Williams were publicly sworn in during a Public Safety Promotion Ceremony held at Messiah Baptist Church on Friday Jan 20, at 6 ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace & Cafe - Jan. 23 to Jan. 29

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Hebrew National Beef Bologna  $11.99lb (Deli)
Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve  $11.99lb (Cheese)
Little Neck Clams $5.99dz (Freeman’s Fish)
Bionaturae Organic Fruit Spread 2/$7.00
Wasa Crispbread $2.99
Navel Oranges #3107 5/ $2.00

See all ...

I-280 Eastbound Traffic Shift Necessary for Bridge Replacement Project in Essex County

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials announced on Jan. 19 a long-term traffic shift on I-280 eastbound starting this weekend to allow for bridge replacement work, as the I-280 and Route 21 Interchange Improvements Project advances in Essex County.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, January 20, until 5 a.m. Monday, January 23, NJDOT’s contractor, ...