Breakthrough Medical Procedure Could Help Spinal Injuries - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/12/07-Tyler

Breakthrough Medical Procedure Could Help Spinal Injuries

It's something no player, or football fan, wants to see:  A player getting carried off the field.

Buffalo Bills tight end and former Kilgore College standout Kevin Everett was trying to make a routine tackle when he ducked his head, hit his helmet high on his opponents shoulder and crushed his spinal cord.

"The upper cervical spine has a lot of ability for flexing and extension, but like every structure, it has got its limit," said Dr. Charlie Gordon, a neuro-surgeon with Texas Spine and Joint.

And that structure reached it's breaking point, leaving Everett paralyzed and doctors thinking he would never walk again. But to everyone's surprise, Everett started to move his arms, legs, and feet early Tuesday morning, thanks to a breakthrough medical procedure. 

"If [the] body temperature can be lowered, we might be able to help prevent some of these devastating neurologic deficits," said Dr. Gordon.

Gordon said it is an experimental treatment, but running cold fluid through someone's body after a spinal cord injury keeps the swelling down, which helps prevents further damage.

"Mild hypothermia can be tolerated for a period of time, and if a person who is injured is going to be helped, they're going to be attended to quickly," he said.

Everett was treated with an ice-cold saline solution just minutes after his injury. And now doctors are hopeful that he could lead a normal life. 

"It's very exciting.  The idea that we might be able to prevent or ameliorate some of these injuries is really quite great news," said Gordon.

Years of research and split second thinking, which could lead to longer, happier lives.

Layron Livingston, KLTV 7 News. llivingston@kltv.com

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