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11Sep/12Off

Devon Walker Out Of Surgery

There is a strong possibility that Devon Walker may never walk again. Let’s hope that he doesn’t join the ranks of football players whose careers have been cut short because of paralysis. It happened to Darryl Stingley, who was a wide receiver for the New England Patriots and was paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. More than 13 years later, Mike Utley, an offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, was paralyzed during a game against the Minnesota Vikings. A year later, the same would happen to Dennis Byrd, a defensive tackle for the New York Jets. Byrd was paralyzed during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. More recently, Kevin Everett, a tight end for the Buffalo Bills, was paralyzed in a 2007 game against the Denver Broncos.

Tulane senior defensive back Devon Walker is responsive following surgery on his fractured cervical vertebrae, but it’s too early to draw any conclusions about his progress.

English: The New England Patriots' offense on ...

English: The New England Patriots’ offense on the field against the New York Jets in a 2006-07 NFL Wild Card Playoff game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The odds were about 100,000 to 1 that he’d suffer a spinal cord injury in a college game. Walker just happened to be the unlucky one.

It was the same with Darryl Stingley, Mike Utley and Dennis Byrd and other players whose names remind us of things we’d rather forget. We just accept them as the cost of doing football business and hope they can turn tragedy into inspiration.

Walker underwent surgery Sunday to stabilize his spine. He has some feeling in his extremities. As the swelling subsides in the next few days, doctors will find out how severe the nerve damage is.

What happened is not a mystery. Walker was zeroing in on a Tulsa runner. He arrived at the target the same time as a teammate. Walker’s helmet slammed into the helmet of defensive tackle Julius Warmsley.

Walker’s body went limp. Trainers and doctors ran to him. The stadium hushed. Players knelt and prayed. “Help is on the way,” Coach Curtis Johnson whispered to Walker.

Back home, a horrified mother and father watched on TV and wondered how quickly they could get to their son. The drama has been performed so many times before.

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, 295 high school, college, pro and sandlot football players suffered spinal cord injuries from 1977-2009.

Relatively speaking, guys like Utley and former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand were lucky. They were hurt in high-profile games and had financial backstops to deal with the millions of dollars in medical and rehabilitation bills.

After a few heartfelt fundraisers, there’s not much more people can do. The high schoolers often end up scraping by on Medicaid and maybe get a plaque outside their old stadium.

About the only good news is we’ve come a long way since three college players died from injuries in 1905. Leather helmets have given way to things like the Head Impact Telemetry System, where padded sensors record the hits a player’s skull absorbs.

It’s used primarily to track concussions, though a high school player broke his neck while wearing the system a couple of years ago. Sensors showed his helmet sustained a 114 g-force blow. That was more than 30 times as much force Space Shuttle astronauts endure on takeoff.

But while it’s not 1905 anymore, all the technique and equipment refinements will never change the basic physics of football. When heads in motion collide, bad things happen. Then that all-too-familiar scene plays out.

That’s the equation we all deal with. We love the game, so we accept its collateral damage and move on. That’s better than dwelling on the reality.

A kid who wanted to be a doctor lies in an intensive care unit. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever move again. It’s a hell of a price to pay for business as usual.

If a loved one was the victim of an accident that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

10Sep/12Off

Devon Walker May Never Walk Again

The curiously named Devon Walker may soon join the ranks of football players whose careers have been cut short because of paralysis. Two years ago, it happened to college football player Eric LeGrand. It has also occurred repeatedly in the NFL. Darryl Stingley, who was a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. More than 13 years later, Mike Utley, an offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, was paralyzed during a game against the Minnesota Vikings. A year later, the same would happen to Dennis Byrd, a defensive tackle for the New York Jets. Byrd was paralyzed during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. More recently, Kevin Everett, a tight end for the Buffalo Bills, was paralyzed in a 2007 game against the Denver Broncos.

Out of all these players, the only ones who have been able to regain their ability to walk have been Byrd and Everett. The others are confined to wheelchairs.

Tulane University, New Orleans, in 1904. Gibso...

Tulane University, New Orleans, in 1904. Gibson Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Loved ones and teammates of a Tulane University football player who fractured his spine while making a tackle will face an agonizing wait to learn how serious the injury is and whether it will leave him paralyzed.

Senior safety Devon Walker was in stable condition and recovering in an intensive-care unit after a three-hour surgery to stabilize his spine at St. Francis Hospital, said Dr. Greg Stewart, Tulane’s director of sports medicine.

“These kind of injuries take 24, 48, sometimes 72 hours to fully declare themselves,” Stewart said before the surgery. “We don’t know what the long-term implications and outcomes are going to be.”

Stewart said he was with Walker on the field, in the ambulance and at the hospital after the injury Saturday. He said Walker was put into a cervical collar and couldn’t see much of what was happening, so Stewart explained what was going on. Walker was talking with doctors as he was being treated, Stewart said.

Walker’s parents had traveled to Oklahoma to be with their son, and they were “doing as well as can be expected,” Stewart said.

“They’re like the rest of us — hopeful and prayerful.”

Stewart was back in New Orleans on Sunday, as were Walker’s teammates. He said Tulane’s athletic director and the football team’s trainer remained in Oklahoma with Walker.

Walker’s injury occurred on the final play of the first half, hours after Tulane opened the Conference USA portion of its schedule against Tulsa. Tulsa was leading 35-3 and facing a fourth-and-2 with the ball at the 33-yard line on Saturday when the Golden Hurricane called timeout. Tulane then called timeout.

When play resumed, Tulsa quarterback Cody Green tossed a short pass to Willie Carter, who caught it at about the 28, and turned upfield. He was tackled around the 17-yard line, with defensive tackle Julius Warmsley and Walker sandwiching him and apparently smashing their helmets together.

Medical personnel from both teams tended to Walker as he lay on the field. FOX Sports reported a hush went over the crowd at H.A. Chapman Stadium as Walker was attended to, and that several coaches were in tears as he was taken away in an ambulance. Spectators bowed their heads as someone on the field led the stadium in prayer.

Dr. Buddy Savoie said during a postgame news conference that Walker never completely lost consciousness and was breathing on his own.

“He was stable when we transported him,” Savoie said. “I do not think, based on the information we have, his life was ever in danger.”

Walker is a senior majoring in cell and molecular biology. His brother, Raynard, told The Associated Press on Saturday that their mother was watching the game on television when her son was injured.

Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said after the 45-10 loss that while Walker was on the field, Johnson told Walker that he was praying for him and that help was on the way.

He said the mood among players was somber and called the day his most difficult ever.

“It was tremendous that they finished the game, as I thought about just saying ‘Hey look, let’s not do anything else. Let’s just get on the road and go.’”

If a loved one was the victim of a serious accident that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.