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Injured player breathing on his own

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ATLANTA

A University of Georgia baseball player who broke his neck in a collision with a teammate last month is showing signs of improvement but remains paralyzed from the waist down, doctors said Thursday.

Jonathan Taylor was injured during a March 6 game against Florida State when he and a teammate collided head-on as they chased a line drive in the outfield. Taylor underwent emergency surgery at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens, Ga., to repair fractures of his C5 and C6 vertebrae.

The 21-year-old was admitted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in spinal cord injuries, on March 11. At that time he was having respiratory issues and was on a ventilator, but is now breathing on his own.

Doctors provided an update Thursday morning, saying over the past month Taylor has improved to the point where he can get out bed every day "independently" to start his rehab, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"He was having a great deal of respiratory trouble when he first got here, but complications now are few," Dr. Donald Peck Leslie said. "He's gaining strength every day. I think you'll see in the future that his prognosis is very good."

Leslie, the medical director at the Shepherd Center, said it is unclear at this point whether Taylor will ever walk again.

"That's a question we get on almost a daily basis, will he walk again?," said Leslie. "That's not known at this time. Walking is a big goal for everybody who comes here. But at this time we can't say that."

Leslie acknowledged after the news conference that "the majority of people with this injury do not walk," unfortunately," according to the report.

He added that Taylor, who has some movement in his arms and can operate a manual wheelchair by himself, is expected to be released within several weeks and continue rehabbing as an outpatient.

Taylor, a junior center fielder from Acworth, Ga., was the leadoff hitter for the Bulldogs, with a .312 career average.

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