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Buffalo Bills' Everett May Walk Again

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

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.

The hypothermia technique probably is better suited to some patients than to others.

"For example, a gunshot wound that blows through the cord or someone that has a total severance of their cord is less likely to respond than someone who's in a football injury," says Green.

There are "definitely a lot of factors, but the truth is, a lot of people don't need to be sitting in wheelchairs," says Green. "We hope we can gain enough attention through what happened to Kevin Everett to get other people the same type [of] opportunities."

Green has also used the same hypothermia technique on spinal tumors.

"Yesterday I took out a huge spinal cord tumor, a 10-hour operation, and I never could have done it without hypothermia because it protected the cord while I was pushing on it and pulling on the tumor. This guy would have ended up very weak, if not in a wheelchair, and he's walking around," Green says.

Karma Plus

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has been a major contributor to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis for the past decade, and Everett played for the University of Miami's football team, Green notes.

"We're very grateful that Ralph Wilson believes in medical research," Green says.

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