Doctors say Christopher Reeve can now move some of his fingers and toes.
They say with current rate of progress he may one day walk again.
He was paralysed in a riding accident seven years ago.
The former Superman star has also passed a number of nerve sensitivity tests.
Reeve can feel a pin prick over most of his body and can distinguish between hot and cold, and sharp and dull sensations.
"No-one who has suffered an injury as severe as Chris's and failed to have any initial recovery has regained the amount of motor and sensory function he has," said Dr John McDonald, from the Washington University School of Medicine.
Reeve said the greatest thing was being able to feel the hugs of his wife, Dana, and his three children.
"To be able to feel just the lightest touch is really a gift," he told People magazine.
The progress has cost the 49-year-old about €446,000 a year in medical bills with therapy including a combination of electrical muscle stimulation and repetitive motion exercises to restart his motor skills.
Reeve had initially hoped to be able to walk by his 50th birthday, later this month. While he will not achieve that goal, he said he remained extremely optimistic.
"The fact is that even if your body doesn't work the way it used to, the heart and the mind and the spirit are not diminished. It's as simple as that."