NEWCASTLE forward Alex McKinnon has told of the tough times when he wondered, ‘‘Am I going to improve any more’’ as he continues his recovery from a serious spinal injury.
But in a video statement released by the Knights yesterday, McKinnon revealed he was making gradual progress in his goal to walk again.
The 22-year-old said he has had some improvement over the past three weeks, including increased movement in his left arm as well as weak movement in his legs.
‘‘Had a few little changes ... a lot more movement in my left arm,’’ said McKinnon, who suffered a devastating spinal injury in a tackle against the Melbourne Storm in round three.
‘‘When I’m on a tilt table on my back with the physio, I’m starting to do these little squats. I was pretty stoked about that.
‘‘That’s obviously a great thing when my goal is to be back walking. Obviously to have a bit of movement in my legs is massive for me and something that I will carry with me through the weeks where I don’t get much improvement.’’
The exercise McKinnon was discussing involves an assisted partial strengthening of his legs with the tilt table removing the resistance of gravity.
McKinnon says he’s keeping upbeat though he knows he faces a long and uncertain recovery process.
‘‘It’s going to be a tough ride and I realise next weekend I’m not going to be back to normal or even increasing,’’ he said.
‘‘I realise it’s going to take a long time to realise where I’m at.’’
But he admitted there were times when he feared his progress had stopped.
“Sometimes you will go through a time where you don’t really get much improvement and you kind think ‘Well, am I going to improve any more?’” McKinnon said.
“Obviously going through a time like that it’s a bit hard. I did have a few weeks like that, maybe two weeks ago, and that was a bit tough for me.”
McKinnon is still lacking fine motor control in his hands and says that is a particular area in which he is aiming to get results.
‘‘That’s one thing I’d really like to work on which I can’t really control. Just to get back to simple things like answering a phone call or texting.
‘‘Over the next few weeks, I would like to get my fingers back but, when you talk about things like this, I can’t control them.
‘‘I’m very happy with what’s come back so far but, obviously, I’ve got a long way to go in the process.’’