Mikey Nichols, the Monroe High School senior forward who suffered a broken neck in a varsity ice hockey game last month, could be transferred to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange from Morristown Medical Center later this week.
“We are getting closer to that major step for Mikey,” read a post Nichols’ parents left Tuesday on an official Facebook page they created to provide daily updates on their son’s medical condition.
“The doctors here at (the hospital) and the staff at Kessler are in communication with each other regarding the big move.”
Nichols’ eyes, according to a Facebook post, lit up when his mother, Christine, showed him the clothes he would be wearing upon his transfer to Kessler, “which hopefully will be any day now.”
“The doctors,” a post at https://facebook.com/prayformikey23 over the weekend read, “still are planning to have him moved to rehab sometime this coming week.”
A spokeswoman for Morristown Medical Center said on Tuesday that the hospital had no further updates on the condition of Nichols, who remains in intensive care following a Jan. 5 surgery on his fractured C5 vertebra.
Nichols received an inspirational visit last week from former Rutgers University football star Eric LeGrand, who was left paralyzed from the neck down after injuring his C3 and C4 vertebrae in a 2010 game. LeGrand left an autographed copy of his biography, “Believe,” for Nichols.
“Eric is such an amazing, radiant man and the visit was an incredible inspiration,” a post on Nichols’ Facebook page read. “His smile lights up a room. He told Mikey that he is actually doing better than he was at this point and can’t wait for him to get to Kessler to work.”
Monroe coach Jerry Minter said he spoke with his players at practice on Tuesday about the possibility of Nichols being transferred by the end of the week to The Center for Spinal Cord Rehabilitation at Kessler.
Minter said the move means Nichols may soon also be allowed to accept visitors, something that he believes will lift Nichols’ spirits and perhaps aid in his recovery.
“There’s probably going to be a waiting list to be able to see him,” Minter said. “I don’t know if Mike is even going to completely grasp the amount of people and the support for him. I don’t think he may have a clue how big this really is.”
Nichols’ father, Steven, told NBC-TV last month that his son could not “feel anything” following a headfirst collision with the boards in a Jan. 4 game against Vernon, and that it was too early at the time for doctors to know if his son will walk again. Nichols has since vowed to stand on the ice where he was critically injured.
“We will begin the quest for a miracle,” Nichols’ parents recently posted on Facebook with a message for the thousands who have been following their son’s story from across the country.
“Your thoughts and prayers in conjunction with Mikey’s will has us believing that a miracle is out there for Mikey.”
Nichols, according to Facebook posts, “suffers with pain constantly” and has difficulty sleeping in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit as he is “constantly awakened” for tests and X-rays.
“We hope that at Kessler he will be able to sleep better as he will need every bit of energy there,” a recent post read, noting that Nichols’ therapist said his strength is improving.
“Therapy is not easy but Mikey’s work ethic allows him to keep going. He knows that the work he needs to do has just begun and he seems up to the challenge. It has been five weeks since the accident. It might seem like a long time, but it is a very small stretch of the long road that lies ahead for him.”
Monroe Athletics Director Greg Beyer said the move to Kessler “is a great step” for Nichols and his family.
“You are happy to see it (his recovery) moving along,” Beyer said. “You only pray and hope that it would move a little quicker. With something like this, you have to be patient. You keep your fingers crossed and you hope things keep moving along.”
Fundraising efforts for the Nichols family continue, the most notable at a GiveForward.com site, https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/xfr3/-prayformikey, which has generated nearly $80,000 in donations.
Other fundraising endeavors, including a ticket raffle for luxury box seats and fire club lounge tickets to a March 23 New Jersey Devils game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, can be found at the Monroe ice hockey team’s official web site, http://www.monroefalconshockey.com/.
“His progress thus far is a direct result of his health care providers, his extraordinary efforts and all of your thoughts and prayers,” Nichols’ parents recently wrote. “We are proud of our son and thank all of you.”