Med: Football Injury–Why The Prognosis Changed

September 13, 2007


I know, I know…ANOTHER post about the NFL injury. This will be the last one–I think–but I wanted to share a little more about the story. When I first wrote about it, it appeared that Kevin Everett would not be able to walk again; however, the doctors later said that he had arm & leg movement and almost surely WILL walk again. So how did this happen?

Apparently during the time immediately after the injury, paramedics–and later the hospital doctors–made the decision to cool his body down to around 92 degrees. This still-experimental procedure–called moderate hypothermia–involves injecting steroids directly into the spine and cooling the body using chilled IV saline-solution. And it is likely that this decision will allow him to walk in the not-so-distant future.

The treatment is experimental in the sense that rugged procedural guidelines–how long one can be cooled, how quickly one can be warmed, etc–have not been fully established. The science, though, is pretty easy to understand. Cooling the body slows down all of the cellular processes in the body; during spinal trauma, it can be used to slow down neuronal apoptosis (cell death). The cells in the spinal cord are undergoing apoptosis because of the pressure placed on them from the injury. Slowing this process down allows the doctors to remove the bone fragments and the broken discs–thus alleviating the pressure whilst minimizing cell death.

Hopefully you haven’t minded my interest in this story. I love medicine…and I love football.

I suppose I should write about the couple of exams I’ve taken in the past week or so. Tune in next time. 🙂


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