A leader in spinal injury research said Tuesday he was optimistic Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett will walk again, despite a neck fracture sustained in his NFL team’s season opener over the weekend and a bleak prognosis earlier.
ROAD AHEAD: Everett faces new journey after coming long way
Barth Green, president and co-founder of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, said he based his optimism on a phone conversation Tuesday with Andrew Cappuccino, one of the surgeons who operated on Everett on Sunday.
“Based on the information that my colleague … told me about, with the strength he has in his arms and legs, yes, I think it’s not unrealistic to think he is going to walk out of the hospital,” Green told ESPN.
“It’s not going to be tomorrow, but it may be a matter of weeks or months. But with Rehabilitation, he should end up walking and I think that with a high level of confidence.”
Monday in Buffalo, Cappuccino said Everett faced long odds in regaining full movement and the ability to walk. The doctor said Everett had no movement below his shoulders following the injury.
Spokespersons for the Bills and Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital, the Buffalo hospital where the surgery was done, declined comment Tuesday on Everett’s condition, saying they preferred to wait 48-72 hours following the surgery to make an evaluation.
Green, also chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami Medical Center, credited Tuesday’s developments to the treatment given to Everett by Cappuccino’s medical team in the ambulance.
That included flushing Everett’s body with a cold saline solution to bring down his body temperature, which can diminish damage to the spinal cord. Green said research on the temperature-lowering strategy was begun about 20 years ago by The Miami Project.
“It’s the earliest example of someone being administered this cool solution within minutes of a catastrophic injury to the brain or spinal cord,” he said. ” … It’s like putting an ice pack on a bruise, but (with) this cool saline, the body was like the ice pack for Kevin’s spinal cord.”
The Miami Project was founded in 1985. Nick Buoniconti, a linebacker with the Miami Dolphins, joined in the development of the project after his son, Marc, suffered a paralyzing neck injury in 1985 while playing for The Citadel.
By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY