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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Buffalo Bills' Everett May Walk Again

Football Player Kevin Everett May Have Better Prognosis Due to Swift Hypothermia Treatment

Timing, Temperature Count

The speedy timing of Everett's treatment was "totally, totally important," says Green. He notes that as far has he knows, Everett was the first person to get hypothermia treatment so quickly for a spinal cord injury.

He points out that Cappuccino had earlier attended a Miami Project lecture about hypothermia treatment.

It's crucial that the hypothermia technique not drop the patient's temperature too low.

"If it drops below 92 [degrees Fahrenheit], patients can develop cardiac arrhythmias or bleeding problems, so you don't want it to get too cold," Green says. "That's why it's called modest or moderate hypothermia, rather than profound hypothermia."

Doctors also gave Everett hypothermia treatment at the hospital.

Hypothermia Treatment: Too Rare?

Hypothermia treatment is used in some U.S. hospitals to help treat heart attacks and strokes.

"We just had a patient here at Jackson [Memorial Hospital] a couple days ago who had a major stroke following a cardiac procedure, and they pulled the clot out and they gave him hypothermia, and he's walking and talking normally today," Green says.

But hypothermia treatment isn't routinely used for spinal cord injury, Green says.

Everett's case may change all that.

"It just makes us think that all the paramedics in America should be keeping this iced saline in an ambulance," Green says.

"In Australia, all the paramedics carry these iced saline bottles in their ambulances because they treat all the heart attack victims. ...," Green says. "We use it in the ICU in Jackson for newborns who have brain damage, we use it for heart attack victims at Jackson, we're using it for spinal injury, brain injury.

"It's a wonderful tool to have. And the beauty of it, for us, is that it was developed by our basic scientists 20 years ago and ... now it's now used all over the world."

Spinal Hypothermia Treatment

Hypothermia treatment for injuries such as Everett's is still considered experimental. Green and colleagues are gathering data on its use.

"But in the meantime, this happened [Everett's treatment], and we're not going to deny it happened," Green says.

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