TJ Lavin Is Speaking, Breathing on His Own

"He knows where he is, but he's not opening his eyes yet," says a friend

Photo: Getty

TJ Lavin has taken some big steps on the long road to recovery.

The BMX rider and MTV host is now able to breathe and be fed without tubes, which were removed Thursday. And now he has started mumbling words to his family.

“He’s answering questions,” friend and business partner Chas Aday tells PEOPLE. “He’ll say ‘yes’ a little bit and he knows where he is, but he’s not opening his eyes yet.”

Lavin, 33, has been in the trauma unit of a Las Vegas hospital since Oct. 14 following a horrific bike crash that led him to be put into a medically induced coma to reduce brain swelling.

Though doctors don’t expect brain damage from the crash, Lavin will likely need to attend rehab in order for his brain “to get it back to normal,” says Aday.

Doctors have yet to set a timetable on when Lavin could be released from the hospital. First, the three-time X Games champion will need surgery on his shattered wrist.

“We’re waiting on the orthopedic surgeon on when they’re going to do that,” Aday says. “Then we’ll see when he’ll be [released]. He may be there another week.”

Still, Aday remains positive about Lavin’s recovery, saying, “We’re moving along and everything is looking up.”

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