ATHENS — Devon Gales, amid positive signs, is going home soon.
Gales, the Southern football player paralyzed in last September’s game at Georgia, is due to be discharged from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta on Feb. 24. He will return soon after to Louisiana for the first time since his injury.
Georgia head athletic trainer Ron Courson, who visits Gales about once a week, said the player is “making progress every day.” He was recently able to stand, with support, for 15 seconds. And he’s having sensations in his lower body every now and then.
“He’s doing well. He’s got some new sensations back,” Courson said. “It’s hard to tell. Sometimes you have to wait a year-and-a-half, two years, to see how they resolve. They’ve got him doing some really progressive things now.”
Gales was scheduled to be discharged from the Shepherd Center a few earlier times, but the postponements were for good reasons. Every time he had a “flicker” or a sensation, as Courson put it, the discharge was postponed to explore it and receiver further treatment.
The fact he’s going home now is more for family reasons. His mother and father have spent the last six months alternating flights between Georgia and Louisiana, where they also have to tend to Gales’ brother and sister.
When Gales is discharged next week he won’t go home right away: He will spend Feb. 25 in Athens, holding a press conference, meeting Georgia athletes, and going to Athens Regional to say thank you to physicians and nurses who treated him.
Then Gales will move back to Baton Rouge, where he will continue treatment. He will also return to school, with two more years until he gets his degree.
And, undoubtedly, Courson and other UGA officials – such as team coordiantor Bryant Gantt and chaplain Thomas Settles – will remain involved.
“He’s a part of our family,” Courson said. “We want to keep him supported.”