Injured Palmerston North rugby player Nat Manville has moved to a specialty spinal unit after more than four weeks in intensive care.
The year 13 Awatapu College student spent 32 days in ICU at Christchurch Hospital after fracturing his fifth cervical vertebra during a ruck while playing for the school's first XV in Pahiatua last month.
He had bone grafted from his hip to help fix the fracture and has been waiting for the nod to move to Burwood Hospital's spinal unit.
His uncle Aaron Manville said it depended on his nephew's health and he had now been given the go-ahead by doctors.
"It was always the plan to go to Burwood because it's what needs to happen so Nat can get on a rehabilitation path," he said. "Being in ICU was about getting the medical issues sorted and on top of some of those core health concerns, but this is definitely a huge step forward."
Manville's respirator has been turned off and his tracheotomy had been replaced by a smaller version, which sucks fluid off his lungs.
Breathing was becoming easier and the smaller tracheotomy allowed Manville to build up the strength of his voice. He's previously only been able to whisper.
He has had more time out of bed and sitting upright in a wheelchair, allowing him to spend time outside.
He has also been able to drink, eat jelly and icecream and now pureed vegetables.
The mobility in his upper body remained steady, and he was able to roll his shoulders and flex his triceps and biceps.
There had been some "mixed emotions" about the move, because although it was a milestone, there was some apprehension about what was ahead for the family.
"They're all getting by OK. Burwood will be a good opportunity to get some sort of normality and more of a routine back into life," Aaron Manville said.
Burwood's 26-bed ward has a hostel with space for four patients undergoing transitional rehabilitation. The unit provides services for people, and their families, with spinal cord impairment.
Manville's mother Brenda remains in Christchurch with her son and the family would be meeting with specialists next week to talk about long-term plans and prognosis.
- Manawatu Standard
Does more need to be done to protect NZ passports?