In May of 1995, Reeve, an avid equestrian, broke his neck when he was thrown from his horse during a competition in Culpeper, Virginia. The accident left Reeve paralyzed from the neck down. Since then, Reeve has spent much of his time on a respirator, but years of therapy allowed him to breathe for longer periods of time without the respirator. He became a major advocate for better insurance protection against catastrophic injury and embryonic stem cell research. In 2000, Reeve was able to move his index finger, while a specialized therapy regimen brought strength back to his arms and legs. Some sensation also returned to other parts of his body.
According to CNN, Reeve was being treated at a New York hospital for a pressure wound that he developed, a common complication for people living with paralysis. The wound became severely infected, resulting in a serious systemic infection.
Following the accident, Reeve routinely stated in interviews that he would one day walk again. In an ad that ran during the 2000 NFL Super Bowl, Reeve did just that with the help of some Hollywood magic. In the commercial for Nuveen Investments, Reeve rose from his chair and appeared to walk. The ad urged viewers to invest well and to help doctors and researchers find ways to reverse the devastating effects of spinal cord injuries.
"On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank Northern Westchester Hospital for the excellent care they provided to my husband," Dana Reeve, Christopher's wife, said in a statement. "I also want to thank his personal staff of nurses and aides, as well as the millions of fans from around the world who have supported and loved my husband over the years."
For many comic fans, Reeve's portrayal of Superman in the four Superman films was considered one of the most faithful and iconic that ever made it to the silver screen. The first two Superman films are considered by many to be amongst the best super-hero films ever made.
Despite the accident, Reeve continued to be active in Hollywood. In 1998, Reeve starred in the ABC Television remake of Hitchcock's "Rear Window," in which the lead character is paralyzed and witnesses a crime in an apartment across the way. The actor won a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in a television movie or miniseries. Reeve also directed "In The Gloaming" in 1997. Reeve returned to the Superman mythos in 2003 playing the role of Dr. Virgil Swann in the WB Television series "Smallville." He reprised the role in 2004 and was expected to return to the series this year.
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