By JOHN SLEEPER
SEATTLE – Curtis Williams is showing improvement.
University of Washington head football coach Rick Neuheisel said Friday that Williams, the UW strong safety who injured his spinal cord last Saturday in Washington’s 31-28 victory over Stanford, is starting to feel sensation in his upper body and is showing improvement in breathing.
Neuheisel, along with former UW coach Jim Lambright, defensive line coach Randy Hart, running backs coach Wayne Moses, safeties coach Bobby Hauck, football operations director Jerry Nevin and head trainer Dave Burton visited Williams for about 30 minutes Thursday at Stanford Medical Center. They returned at 2 a.m. Friday.
“It just looked like he was on the road to recovery,” Neuheisel said. “Obviously, it is a long road and little victories cannot be taken for granted. We just wish him the very best. It was an uplifting experience, if not for Curtis, then for the seven guys who visited him.”
Williams was injured in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Stanford tailback Kerry Carter. He lay motionless on the turf for 17 minutes while medical personnel attended to him, then was taken by ambulance to Stanford Medical Center. Williams has been diagnosed as having a contusion in his C-2 vertebra, high in the neck. Doctors still have not been able to determine the severity of the injury and have offered no prognosis.
Williams remains in the intensive care unit, his breathing aided by a ventilator.
“We had a great visit with him,” Neuheisel said. “His spirits were up. His brother, David, confirmed that Curtis had some feeling in his upper body and has experience progress since last Sunday, which was the last time I saw him.
“The doctors have confirmed that he has feeling in his neck area and that he is over-breathing his ventilator, meaning that the diaphragm is working. That is always a good sign.”
Several activities are planned regarding Williams at today’s UW-Arizona game.
Twenty-five-thousand stickers with Williams’ number (25) will be given away at five tents at the main entrances to Husky Stadium. Williams’ initials have been embroidered on the upper-left corner of Washington’s jerseys. Several message boards will be available for fans to write notes to Williams. The message boards will be located in the south E-12 parking lot at the climbing rock and the north plaza inside the stadium.
Both Washington and Arizona will participate in the pregame salute to Williams following the national anthem.
Stanford players will wear decals in the back of their helmets with Williams’ number during their game with UCLA today.
Stanford Medical Center has made arrangements for a special monitor in Williams’ room so that he can watch the Husky-Wildcat game.
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