Kevin Everett and Catastrophic football cervical spine injuries
September 10, 2007 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Paralysis likely for Bill Football player Kevin Everett. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery Reviews Injuries to the Cervical Spine in American Football Players a detailed study of 1300 cervical spine injuries resulting from tackle football. In Kevin Everett's favor is the speed in which the fracture(s) were reduced
posted by Rancid Badger (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
American football is a hell of a dangerous game to play. The average linebacker is the size of an average house.
posted by zardoz at 7:43 PM on September 10, 2007

I hope this young man makes a miraculous recovery.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:45 PM on September 10, 2007

Would anybody happen to know the compensations he'll likely receive?
posted by hafetysazard at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2007

Here is the text of an email I received from a Buffalo sports forum (bold added by me):

Buffalo Bills medical director Dr. John Marzo and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Cappuccino met with the Buffalo media Tuesday, and delivered the initial diagnosis that Kevin Everett suffered a potential lethal and grave injury Sunday afternoon. Dr. Cappaccino said that a full recovery is unlikely. During the surgical procedure performed Sunday night, doctors realigned and decompressed Everett's spine, and fused the third and fourth cervical vertebrae with screws.

Monday morning, doctors performed a neurological exam and determined that he could breath on his own, and had similar sensations as the night before, but stressed they still do not have a prognosis. Doctors are concerned about blood clotting and pneumonia to start, and will keep him in a protected state with drugs for the next two to three days. Everett is also on a respirator. Doctors advised that there would be no updates for the next 48 to 72 hours as the swelling subsides.

From WGR - Sports Radio 550 in Buffalo
posted by Doohickie at 8:15 PM on September 10, 2007

No doubt, NFL gear deserves significant re-design attention, particularly in the areas of helmets/faceguards, shoulder pads, and neck protection interfaces. The current generation of "horse collars," flexion limiters, and helmet motion restrictors are inadequate to the task of protecting players in violent impacts, as this latest high profile NFL injury, and hundreds of lesser publicized high school and college injuries that will occur this season demonstrate.

The same problems in NASCAR required the death of Dale Earnhardt, to be addressed, and the resultant improvements may not still be entirely protective.

Football is necessarily a violent game, that must always require courage, and an acceptance of pain. But anything that can be done to minimize catastrophic injury, should be. I'm not sure that the NFL is spending any real time or money on safety engineering to forestall such incidents in the future. Until it moves beyond it's focus on banning and penalizing specific hazardous play techniques, to improving gear design, I'm not sure we can expect an end to such tragedies.

But I, for one, don't want to see football that isn't played hard. That's a basic element of the sport. Bumps and bruises are one thing, however, while broken necks, concussions, and destroyed joints are quite others.
posted by paulsc at 8:19 PM on September 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

Scary and horrible. The video of the collision and collapse is surreal...
posted by chasing at 8:23 PM on September 10, 2007

College too. Chucky Mullins.
posted by tayknight at 8:40 PM on September 10, 2007

I just realized, the one picture of a actual, football hit in the article is Chucky Mullins hitting Brad Gaines.
posted by tayknight at 8:43 PM on September 10, 2007

This is why the soccer snobs who sniff at "that game played in body armor" piss me off. Yeah, we play in body armor -- because look at what happened in the days before modern safety consciousness. How often do absolutely crippling, not just career-ending, but absolutely life threatening injuries happen to soccer players?
posted by jammer at 8:58 PM on September 10, 2007

Only sport that is tougher is Rugby League. Modern day Rugby League is freakin' insane, and someone is soon going to die playing NRL.

NFL has slightly bigger boys, granted. NRL is tougher.

/huge sports fan
//not a huge fan of NRL or NFL, so no bias involved
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:19 PM on September 10, 2007

Who is this Bill Football, and why is he always getting played by Kevin Everett?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:51 PM on September 10, 2007

It is truly sad. Godspeed Mr. Everett.
posted by caddis at 10:00 PM on September 10, 2007

This was a terrible, terrible thing to witness live. It brought back awful memories of watching the 2000 Stanford vs. UW game when Curtis Williams suffered the same injury. He died 2 years later.

The worst part is that the hit never looks that bad at first, but then you see their body go limp and utterly still and you realize that this is as bad as it gets.

All football players are aware of the risks as soon as they begin playing. I remember my parents having to sign the "Accidental Death and Dismemberment" papers when I first started playing in High School. I sincerely hope this serves as a reminder for players to play safer, encourages equipment makers to innovate, and make people generally more aware.

But I wish they wouldn't show that video clip anymore on TV. Safety classes, yes. HD ESPN, please, no.
posted by krippledkonscious at 10:03 PM on September 10, 2007

I was expecting the video to show a vicious tackle with the blow to the neck happening at some weird angle. But it looked so...ordinary. Makes it even more disconcerting.
posted by aerotive at 10:24 PM on September 10, 2007

But I wish they wouldn't show that video clip anymore on TV. Safety classes, yes. HD ESPN, please, no.

As one who SQUIRMS LIKE AN EEL OUT OF WATER whenever he sees a relatively minor ACL injury (you know – where the upper leg stays put and the lower legs slides sideways and inch – eewwww), the clip doing the rounds doesn't look that bad.

Obviously it was bad but it doesn't look bad.

Do you believe I got rickrolled while looking for that?! On, of all places??!!


posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:25 PM on September 10, 2007

Rickrolled, for anyone else who was curious.
posted by stavrogin at 11:41 PM on September 10, 2007

I hope this young man makes a miraculous recovery.

so that he can break his back again? as noted above, the pattern of spinal cord injuries in the NFL -- quite unique, I think, among pro sports -- makes it necessary, some of us would say mandatory, a sever redesign of protective gear. and if that protective, safer gear, ultimately harms performance, so be it. Formula One car races had a disturbing pattern of mortal crashes/ very severe injuries to pilots: cars have been redesigned almost from scratch with safety as a goal, rules have been changed. this initially slowed cars down, and made them look lamer.

the last two deaths in Formula One racing happened in 1993.

I don't see why the NFL should not invest time and attention to the goal of not turning their games into "let's see who becomes the next Christoper Reeve today" horror fests. players necks and spinal cords are clearly not protected enough. a redesign is in order. the USA has the best sports doctors, best neurologists, best orthopedics: I'm sure a commission would be able to find a solution quite rapidly. it's only about the will to implement it, really.

then there's the issue of performance-enhancing drugs, but that's another business.
posted by matteo at 3:49 AM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Only sport that is tougher is Rugby League.

Nope. What the ruggers understand is that, if you don't wear armor, you can't hit as hard. Yes, you can hit brutally hard, but your body isn't stupid.

The reason that American Football is much more violent is that it can be. One of the first things you're taught when you start playing is to ignore your body telling you "if I hit that at full speed, I'm going to seriously hurt myself." After a few weeks of full-pad drills, you start hitting much harder, because you can.

Try, if you will, running into a wall at full speed. You will pull back before impact, unless you've played American football, in full gear. If you have, you'll collapse on the ground and bleed profusely, since you've taught your body that you can run into things at full power (except, of course, without the pads, this is a liability.)
posted by eriko at 5:11 AM on September 11, 2007 [4 favorites]

Completely brilliant post, eriko.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:17 AM on September 11, 2007

I'm also interested in the answer to hafetysazard's question above. Does this guy get his medical care covered by the NFL as long as he needs it and so forth?
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:10 AM on September 11, 2007

the last two deaths in Formula One racing happened in 1993

The last two deaths in F1 were in 1994, at Imola.

I wonder if a HANS type device or system would be applicable to football? The difference between being strapped firmly inside a cockpit with a device that prevents your neck from taking the strain of load under accidents and a mobile person may make it inapplicable.

Furthermore, Senna's death at Imola was also a rather freak thing. Had the wishbone not pierced his helmet and brain but just missed he'd have walked away from the accident.
posted by juiceCake at 11:07 AM on September 11, 2007

I'm also interested in the answer to hafetysazard's question above. Does this guy get his medical care covered by the NFL as long as he needs it and so forth?

From what I've read, they'll probably cover all medical expenses directly related to this injury. However I don't know that he'll be as fortunate as time goes on. The NFL has a notoriously bad health care program for retired or inactive players. Many retirees are currently in litigation or lobbying to get better coverage, as serious problems are starting to present themselves and their health is deteriorating. It tends to put me on the side that says: Pay these athletes as much as the market will bear while they play, because this may be what they'll have to live on for the rest of their (disabled) lives.

No only is his life in danger here, if he ends up not being sufficiently covered for medical expenses in the future, Kevin Everett and his family will be in serious financial trouble as well.
posted by krippledkonscious at 1:48 PM on September 11, 2007

Wow. Frickin amazing.
posted by Doohickie at 9:44 AM on September 12, 2007

JohnnyGunn: I hope this young man makes a miraculous recovery.

matteo: so that he can break his back again?

Matteo, no. Not so that he can break his back again. He'll never play football again. We're talking about whether or not he ever leaves his hospital bed under his own power again. Do you really hope that this young man is quadriplegic, crippled for life, just because the NFL didn't consult you when it designed its safety regulations? I hope not.

matteo: the last two deaths in Formula One racing happened in 1993.

Uh, no, actually those deaths happened in 1994. And if you want to talk about race safety, the death of Senna was probably the best thing ever to happen to other F1 drivers. He was a sadistic, violent menace.

matteo: maybe she doesn't want/care/have the time to answer? why should we track down other users here?

I'm glad I didn't listen to you, matteo. occhiblu and I have been dating happily for two years, and we're now living together.

You've been wrong in a lot of important ways, matteo. Take a look at what you've been saying; ask yourself if that's who you really want to be?
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:24 PM on September 12, 2007

occhiblu and I have been dating happily for two years, and we're now living together.

now that is pretty cool, another mefi relationship. pshaw to those who say this is not a community. best of luck to both of you.
posted by caddis at 7:37 PM on September 12, 2007

By the way ikkyu2, this is right up your professional alley, what do you think about his chances of recovery (I know you have not examined him etc., but do these somewhat positive stories sound true or rosy)?
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on September 12, 2007

There's not enough information for me to make even a good guess, caddis. What I've heard is that the cord was contused but not severed, which is good; that the guy was in the O/R nearly instantly, and got steroids nearly instantly, which is good; and that he was moving his arms and legs a little on day 2 post-op, which is good. All those things are good prognostic factors.

What's missing is a description of what radiologic abnormality, if any, was present in the cord. Was there high T2 signal indicating contusion/edema? Was there an intrinsic cord hematoma? Either of those things would be bad. Was it SCIWORA (spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality)? That'd be good.

Basically though none of these factors are predictive in individual cases. We'll all just have to wait and see.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by caddis at 10:47 AM on September 13, 2007

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