Rick James Undergoes Physical Rehab

Funk icon is in stable condition at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following a stroke Monday that left him unable to walk.

Funk-icon Rick James has moved out of the intensive-care unit of Cedars-Sinai Medical

Center in Los Angeles and is undergoing physical rehabilitation following a stroke

Monday that left him temporarily unable to walk.

"A rehabilitation doctor has been assigned to start an intensive physical-rehabilitation

program to enable him to ... walk," Steve Levesque, James' publicist at the Lee Solters

Company, said in a statement released Thursday morning (Nov. 12). "James says he

plans to resume his concert schedule as soon as possible."

James, who is listed in stable condition and is expected to regain his mobility, put his

current tour of the U.S. on hold indefinitely following the stroke.

On Friday, James, who is perhaps best-known for his pop-funk hit "Super Freak," broke a

blood vessel in the back of his neck during a concert at the Mammoth Event Center in

Denver.

According to Levesque, James was able to finish the concert but collapsed upon coming

offstage at the end of his show. He was examined quickly by doctors, who discovered the

broken blood vessel and advised James to return to Los Angeles for further medical

examination. The singer was on the first leg of a two-month, U.S. tour.

On Monday, James complained of numbness on his right side and was admitted to

Cedars-Sinai. There, doctors determined that he had suffered a stroke that left him

temporarily unable to walk. James has retained his recognition and comprehension

skills.

Though an initial statement from Levesque blamed the clot on "rock 'n' roll neck," which

he defined as the rhythmic, whiplash motion of the head and neck practiced as part of

live performances, Dr. William Young, James' physician, said Thursday morning that he

is unable to say for certain what caused the blood to clot in that location.

"[T]he test is not able to or meant to determine if the clot was caused by trauma or a

congenital narrowing of the artery or a combination of both," Young said of the

examination that was designed to determine if blood clotting led to the stroke. "It is likely,

though, that the stroke was caused by the Denver injury."

According to the American Heart Association's website, the type of stroke James had

"occurs when a blood vessel bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is

clogged by a blood clot or some other particle." Part of the brain then doesn't get the

requisite flow of blood, and brain cells begin dying within minutes.

The AHA's site also says that when a neck artery has become partially blocked, as is the

case with James, surgery might be used to remove the buildup of plaque. James and his

doctors, however, elected to concentrate on his rehabilitation and are using

blood-thinning medication to reduce the chance of another stroke.

Neither Young, Levesque nor Cedars-Sinai spokespeople indicated how long James

might be in the hospital or how long it would be until he could walk again. James' tour --

which was scheduled to continue Thursday at the State Theatre in Cleveland and was

set to play 14 more dates before wrapping up New Year's Eve in Atlanta -- has been

postponed indefinitely.

It might be a while before James hits the stage again. The AHA says most improvements

in a person's ability to function in the first 30 days after a stroke are due to spontaneous

recovery. Further rehabilitation may be necessary, however, depending on the extent to

which the brain is affected, the survivor's attitude, the rehabilitation team's skill and the

cooperation of family and friends.

Although James began his career in music in 1963, the Buffalo, N.Y., native didn't come

to prominence until he signed with Motown in 1978. His solo debut, Come and Get

It, sold more than a million copies and started a long chain of hits, including "You and

I," which reached #1 on the R&B chart and #13 on the pop chart.

Other late-'70s James hits include "Mary Jane," "Bustin' Out," "Give It to Me Baby" and his

signature song, "Super Freak."

He scored R&B hits in the mid-'80s with "17," "Cold Blooded" and a duet with Smokey

Robinson, "Ebony Eyes." Then, in 1990, James was back at the top of the pop chart

when MC Hammer used a loop from "Super Freak" as the basis for his massive hit, "U

Can't Touch This." James sued Hammer over the unauthorized use of his song but

settled out of court when Hammer gave him a songwriting credit.

The next year brought James back into the courtroom, but this time it was criminal court,

not civil court. He and his girlfriend were accused of holding hostage and physically

abusing a woman who refused to join them in group sex. James, who claimed the

incident happened during a cocaine-fueled drug binge, pleaded no contest and was

sentenced to five years in prison.

When James was released in 1996, he immediately began work on a new album.

Urban Rhapsody was released in 1997 and included such songs as

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-

music/James,_Rick/Players_Way.ram">"Player's Way" (RealAudio excerpt) and

"So Soft, So Wet." James has been on tour ever since.

In lieu of flowers and cards, James has asked that donations be made to the Leukemia

Foundation in the name of William "Head" Johnson, James' younger brother, who died

last week of leukemia at the age of 44.