Adam Taliaferro, Cornerback for Penn State
WHAT'S INVOLVED WITH TREATMENT: continued...
Scientists are studying other chemicals that can be used to
block the body's response to the injury, as well as whether keeping the patient
cold might help.
Surgery also may be helpful. A day after Taliaferro's accident,
a surgeon was able to reinforce the injury site in his neck with a metal pin
and pieces of bone, in a procedure called spinal fusion. As Taliaferro
recovered from surgery, he stayed a few more days in Ohio until he could return
closer to home. It took a week for him to be able to move his left leg again.
His hands came back next, followed by his right leg. His therapy at the
rehabilitation center works his limbs, and with the help of a harness, he can
move on a treadmill. He also can use his arms but still cannot use his fingers.
His doctor has told The Associated Press that all the muscles needed to walk
are working again.
Doctors suspect a spinal injury when a patient loses body
sensation and the ability to move. After his accident, Taliaferro had sensation
in his body but suffered some paralysis. These symptoms told doctors that
Taliaferro had injured the cervical spine, which is the portion of spinal cord
in the neck.
Physicians can get clues to tell them which nerves are involved
according to what the patient can and can't move. They also can use technology
like MRI, which uses a computer and magnetism to create images of the injury
Football helmets can offer some protection by preventing a bit of the
snapping motion of the head and neck. But players need to be cautious when
hurling themselves headfirst into their opponents, as well as know how to
protect the head and neck when falling. The high impacts and quick falls that
are common in football make spinal injury a possibility.
In time, Taliaferro may regain enough strength and movement to play football
again. His doctor has said that he would advise him not to play anymore because
he risks reinjuring himself. The teen says he just wants to be able to make it
back to school again.
The fact that Taliaferro suffered this injury on the football field allowed
him to receive immediate and appropriate medical treatment. An injury such as
his could have been much worse if left untreated, even for a few hours. His
doctors, therapists, parents, and fellow football players all are optimistic of
his recovery. To help get there, Penn State and Ohio State raised $94,000 to
help with the hospital expenses. He entered the rehabilitation center on Nov.
1, waving to supporters from his motorized wheelchair. He still has about a
two-month stay ahead of him and will probably need more therapy after the
experts say he is ready to go home.