Devon Gales is coming home.
Gales, the Southern wide receiver who suffered a paralyzing neck injury in a game against Georgia last September, is scheduled to be released Feb. 24 from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where he has been rehabbing from spinal surgery for the last 4½ months. Shortly after being released he will return to his native Baton Rouge.
A Southern spokesperson confirmed the impending release to The Advocate after it was first reported Wedbesday by DawgNation.com, a website that covers Georgia athletics and is affiliated with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Gales became a Georgia fan after being embraced by the team and fans following the injury. Georgia athletic trainer Ron Courson, who was one of the first to reach Gales’ side after the player collided with Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan, visits Gales regularly. Courson told DawgNation.com that he’s seen Gales make progress in his treatments.
“He’s doing well. He’s got some new sensations back,” Courson told the website. “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 broke his sixth cervical vertebra when blocking on a kickoff return on Sept. 26.
According to the website, Courson said Gales is “making progress every day.” He was recently able to stand, with support, for 15 seconds and he’s having periodic sensations in his lower body.
When Gales is discharged he will spend Feb. 25 in Athens, Ga., holding a news conference, meeting Georgia athletes, and going to Athens Regional to say thank you to physicians and nurses who treated him.
Gales underwent spinal surgery at Athens Regional just hours after he was injured.
After the visit to Athens, he is scheduled to move back to Baton Rouge, where he will continue treatment and return to Southern. He is two years from earning his degree.
Gales and his family have become close to numerous members of the Georgia athletic department who have supported them since the injury occurred.
“He’s a part of our family,” Courson said. “We want to keep him supported.”