Recent Blog Posts
- Keep Fighting Eric!
- What does Google Trends tell us about Spinal Cord Injury?
- Join the Cure Warriors - Great U2FP video
- 2011 Chicago Marathon Summary
- The Patient: The Person at the Center of My Care
- Study Shows US Health Care System Fails to Meet Needs of those with Spinal Cord Injury
- Budget Cuts Reduce Disabled Transit
- New Jersey State to Cut Spinal Cord Injury Research Funds
- Recent Study on US Health Care System Performance
- Good Article on Making Babies After SCI
College Football SCI Underscores Urgency for a Cure
Doctors removed Rutger's tackle Eric LeGrand from the ventilator five weeks after suffering a devastating spinal cord injury on October 16th, 2010 in a game against Army. LeGrand, 20, was immediately diagnosed as paralyzed from the neck down with an injury to his C3 and C4 vertebrae. Doctors reclassified the injury as incomplete from complete five weeks later, meaning there is some function below the injury site (Rutger's LeGrand update page). The incident shed light on the outlook for spinal cord injury victims, and ways to prevent them in sports.
LeGrand in his last game
The surrounding football community held out hope for LeGrand's recovery as doctors explained the grim reality of spinal cord injuries. As late as five days after the injury, Rutgers' head coach Greg Schiano was confident LeGrand would walk again. Rutgers teammates placed "believe" stickers on their helmets, hoping for miracle. Doctors and medical experts explained with every passing minute, the prognosis grew bleaker. From the ESPN article (Full Article):
Dr. Roy Vingan, a neurosurgeon with the North Jersey Brain and Spine Group, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that there is set time to determine the extent of a spinal cord injury.
From his personal experience, however, Vingan said spinal cord patients who exhibit no evidence of neurological function below the area of injury within 24 to 72 hours do not make a significant recovery. He said there have been one or two exceptions in the time he has practiced, but the number is very low.
If LeGrand does recover, he would be the rare exception. LeGrand's injury and inspirational response brings into focus the status quo of spinal cord injury treatment and recovery. Modern medicine can merely stabilize the body after a severe injury and watch for recovery. After the body resussitates what it can, victims are left with dreadful verdict.
At his level of injury, LeGrand will join a group of sufferers battling just to survive everyday. Physically, these victims are entirely dependent for every basic facet of their lives: getting in/out of bed, feeding, relieving themselves, bathing/hygiene, absolutely everything. Psychologically, opening their eyes every morning is a victory. Socially, they're ostracized, mischaracterized and subject to discrimination. Economically, they're perpetually burdened by medical expenses and plagued by high unemployment rates. This is the desperate truth of "recovery".
The NCAA and NFL are taking these injuries and their prevalence in football seriously. The NCAA expressed their concerns and well wishes for LeGrand and highlighted the measures taken to reduce these catatrosphic collisions and their effect. The NFL announced steeper fines and penalties for helmet-helmet hits and mandated all personnel to view a video complilation of illegal and legal hits. On the following Sunday, the day after the LeGrand injury, the NFL assessed $175,000 in fines for three gruesome collisions. The league also threatened to suspend players for such hits going forward. Full Article