Bolden Gets Some Feeling Back After Spine Injury

Crawford High graduate Alex Bolden, a senior safety at the University of New Mexico, said Friday he is regaining feeling in areas that were partially paralyzed during a tackling drill Thursday.

“I’m in great spirits,” Bolden said from his room at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. “Right now I’m starting to regain feeling in my arms and legs. My parents, my friends and my teammates are around, and that helps.”

Bolden, 22, was injured Thursday afternoon while carrying the ball during a interception-return drill, with teammates practiced one-on-one tackling. Bolden told trainers he heard a popping sound when he was hit and another when he hit the ground.

“I guess I just fell down a funny way,” he said. “It wasn’t really a square shot.”

Bolden, 6-feet 2-inches and 192 pounds and third on the team’s depth chart at free safety, said the tackler wrapped his arms around Bolden’s upper legs, forcing him to land with a jolt, and then landed on top of him.

“My neck popped,” Bolden said. “As soon as it popped I thought I pinched a nerve. I tried to get up, kind of like a boxer after he’s been knocked down. I felt a shooting sensation, fell down and blacked out.”

Bolden had suffered a cervical spine injury causing trauma and partial paralysis.

Bolden said doctors told him they were still unsure if he had knocked a vertebra out of place or broken his neck. A release issued by the hospital, through the university, said there was no prospect for surgery at this time.

He was removed from intensive care Friday morning. A hospital spokesman said late Friday that Bolden was in satisfactory condition, making steady improvement. He would not comment on whether there might be any lingering damage.

Bolden said he had no feeling in his upper body Thursday night but that lower body felt as if it were asleep.

“It was like the feeling was coming back,” he said. “Later on I had a lot of feeling in my feet.”

He said that when he awoke Friday morning, still groggy, he discovered something.

“I wanted a drink of water from the nurse, and I raised my hand,” he said. “She said, ‘Look, you raised your hand.’ It just happened. When I woke up it still felt like a dream. I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing.”

He said the feeling in his fingers is about 95% but that he is still a little weak.

“But that’s to be expected, I guess,” he said.

New Mexico Coach Mike Sheppard said he was relieved by Friday’s news.

“This morning’s report is very encouraging,” Sheppard said. “It’s the kind of news we all hoped and prayed we would hear. I can’t wait to have Alex back on his feet.”

Sheppard asked his players to pray for Bolden Thursday night and, according to Bolden, a similar plea was made on an Albuquerque television station.

“That really makes me feel good . . . considering,” Bolden said. “I just thank the Lord I have friends with me.”

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