Hey,

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. 🙂

Med: Football Follow-up

September 11, 2007

Latest reports from the doctors of Kevin Everett are that he might actually walk again after all. They’ve been slowly removing him from sedation, and he has some voluntary movement in his hands and legs:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3014742

Med: Football Injury

September 10, 2007

Hey everyone,

Sorry about the little hiatus I took–it’s been quite a busy time as of late. Last week I had my first exam of medical school (biochem) and I took my second this morning (physiology). I’ll be talking more about them soon, but for now something else is weighing on my mind.

Yesterday was a somber day for the NFL–the normally happy occasion of Opening Day was overshadowed by an injury to Kevin Everett of the Buffalo Bills. During a tackle, he put his head down and suffered a fracture of the cervical spinal cord. According to ESPN.com, this injury is “catastrophic” and the surgeons that operated on him last night believe that he will suffer permanent neurological paralysis–to what extent they are not sure.

This sitatuation has been weighing heavily on my mind over the past day. I’m not a Bills fan…and frankly 48 hours ago I would have had no idea who this guy is. Rather, this is fitting into the “damn…i’m going to be a doctor” category. This past Friday, we had our first anatomy lecture–the spinal cord. Before then, I would not have known where on the spinal cord is considered “cervical,” but on Sunday I was able to fully understand where his injury was.

Furthermore, my physiology test this morning was on the NERVOUS SYSTEM–what types of nerves come from which area of the spinal cord, what systems they innervate, how inhibitions to particular regions will affect an individual, etc. Sure, everyone knows that a spinal cord injury affects the nervous system…but I understand much more about this than I did just a few weeks ago.

And I’m realizing that everytime I hear about a particular injury throughout the rest of my life, I will be able to pinpoint EXACTLY what is going on, why it’s a problem, and what we are doing to fix it. Granted, this isn’t exactly profound–THAT’S WHAT DOCTORS DO–but it’s still powerful to be moving into this role.

I’m going to love this profession–but it’s sure going to do a number on my emotions.