Reeve begins therapy doctors see more movement


The wife of Christopher Reeve said yesterday that the actor had begun therapy for his paralysis and had been watching hockey on TV.

Doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville where Mr. Reeve, 42, has been treated since his riding accident on May 27 reported that he had made some unexpected progress.

They said that while he was still unable to breathe without a respirator, he did show signs of movement on both sides of his body.

The doctors said he could eat solid food and was not in pain.

Dr. John Jane, the actor's attending physician, said Mr. Reeve's ability to flex his right trapezius, a shoulder muscle in the back, and to make some movement on his left side "means that impulses are getting through the area of injury."

Dr. Jane said he could not speculate on how much more recovery, if any, would be possible for Mr. Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down when he was thrown over the head of a balking horse.

On Monday, surgeons used a ring and 11 wires to stabilize the top bones of his spinal cord, which were shattered in the fall. Mr. Reeve was still listed in serious condition yesterday.

Mr. Reeve's wife, Dana Reeve, said his spirits were "for the most part quite good.

"He is a fighter and a survivor of the first order," she said, and he has begun physical therapy. "But this has to be the toughest challenge that he has ever faced. I know it's mine."

The couple, married for three years, has a son, William, 2. Mrs. Reeve, 34, is an actress and singer.

She said her husband spends much of his time listening to friends read from the 4,000 letters and faxes he has received. Fans have also sent 150 bouquets, as well as books, videos, cassettes, posters and good-luck talismans.

Also yesterday, an equestrian official said Mr. Reeve's family had asked that a riding safety poster the actor had endorsed before the accident not be distributed for now.

On the poster, Mr. Reeve, who played Superman in films, is shown jumping a fence on horseback, and is quoted as saying, "In films I've played an invincible hero -- but in real life, I wouldn't think of riding without a helmet."

When he was thrown two weeks ago, Mr. Reeve was wearing a helmet, but he landed headfirst, breaking his neck.

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