Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Everett's spinal injury could be lethal: doctors

AP , ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK

The Buffalo Bills' Kevin Everett sustained a "catastrophic" and life-threatening spinal-cord injury in Sunday's National Football League game against the Denver Broncos, and his chances of regaining a full range of body motion are very small, an orthopedic surgeon said on Monday.

"A best-case scenario is full recovery, but not likely," Doctor Andrew Cappuccino said, one day after performing a four-hour operation on the player. "I believe there will be some permanent neurological paralysis. ... A full neurological recovery was bleak, dismal."

Everett was hurt when he lowered his head while driving in to tackle the Broncos' Domenik Hixon during the second half-opening kickoff.

Everett dropped face first to the ground after his helmet hit Hixon high on the left shoulder and side of the helmet.

Television replays showed the player twitching for a few seconds as he attempted to get up before falling back to the ground.

Everett's eyes were open but he showed no further signs of movement during the next 15 minutes as the team's medical staff and emergency personnel placed him on a backboard and, with the player's head and body immobilized, loaded him into an ambulance.

Cappuccino said the 25-year-old reserve tight end did have touch sensation throughout his body and also showed signs of movement.

Howevewr, he cautioned that Everett's injury remained life-threatening, saying the player is still susceptible to blood clots, infection and breathing failure.

Everett was yesterday under forced sedation and breathing through a respirator as doctors wait for the swelling to lessen. Cappuccino said it would take up to three days to determine the severity of the injury and the recovery process.

During the operation, Cappuccino repaired a break between the third and fourth vertebrae and also alleviated the pressure on the spinal cord. The process included a bone graft and the insertion of a plate and four screws.

Cappuccino said Everett was alert and is aware of the extent of his injuries.

"I was honest with him, and he told me, `Do everything you can to help me,'" said Cappuccino, who works for the Bills as a consultant, specializing in spinal surgery.

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