Former Canisius College basketball star Brian Dux has made steady progress since suffering life-threatening head injuries in a car accident two weeks ago and could be moved from a high-dependency trauma unit into intensive care in a hospital in England, his father said Saturday.
Dux remained mostly unconscious but was responding to certain commands and showing other signs of improvement. He also was breathing on his own and no longer requires a tracheotomy that was performed shortly after the crash.
He remains in Frimley Park Hospital in suburban London.
"He's still unconscious but showing more signs of consciousness," said Mark Dux, who returned to the family's Orchard Park home on Friday. "He's responding more to commands as far as hand grips and thumbs up with his right hand. He'll wave, snap his fingers and do things along those lines."
Dux suffered a defuse-axonal injury in which the brain is traumatized by extreme deceleration. It leaves about 90 percent of its victims in a persistent coma but rarely causes death, according to a 2004 report released by a doctor from Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. Dux's prognosis remains uncertain.
"It's a bad term," Mark Dux said. "You don't want to hear that term when you have injuries. From what I gather, there are little patches of injuries in a lot of places. It's the shock of the deceleration that traumatizes the nerves. They could never work again or they could come back to any level again. That's why there's uncertainty."
The accident occurred Nov. 10 while Dux was playing for the Guildford Heat, a professional team in the British Basketball League. Details about the crash remained unclear Saturday.
Dux was sharing an apartment with former University at Buffalo swingman Danny Gilbert, his teammate in England. Dux was home when Gilbert went to bed but was gone when Gilbert woke up the next morning.
Mark Dux suspects his son left home for a late-night snack and fell asleep at the wheel on a dark, narrow, winding road in a quiet section of town. He struck a post before hitting a tree at about 4:40 a.m. Alcohol was not believed to be a factor, Mark Dux said.
"There hasn't been a suggestion about any of that or a word from anybody to this point," he said. "He's a late-night person. It wouldn't be uncommon for him to run out for something to eat. That's my sense."
Mark Dux returned to his home in Orchard Park with his other son, Aaron. His wife, Lynda Dux, remained in England with Brian. The family has received hundreds of e-mails, telephone messages and letters of support. His team is holding a benefit game Dec. 28 to raise money for the family.
Dux was a star at Orchard Park High School before he became the second player in Canisius history with 1,000 points and 500 assists. He was one of the most popular players in England over the past three seasons and was named the BBL's Most Valuable Player last season.
"I wish I could shout out how appreciative we are for the support," Mark Dux said. "People have been special. We're so thankful."
Investigators are also looking into why Dux was left unconscious behind the wheel of his car for nearly 2 1/2 hours before emergency crews arrived at the scene. He spent about a week in a coma before showing signs of progress.
Dux opened his eyes for about 20 minutes a few times in recent days but spent most of his time sleeping. He made only subtle movements with his left side, but his family was hoping that would also improve. He was able to make a shooting motion with his right hand while holding a miniature basketball.
"He understands some, but that's about all we know. He can't talk or do anything else," Mark Dux said. "[Volunteer movements] are all signs of more consciousness, but he's obviously got a long ways to go. Like the doctor says, you have to take every little acorn and just run with it."