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NAME: Thurman Thomas

TEAM: Buffalo Bills (Football)

POSITION: Running Back

INJURY: Liver and Kidney Contusions

OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED

U.S. cyclocross: Tim Johnson; Hockey: Alexander Mogilny, Vancouver Canucks; Brett Hull, Dallas Stars; Pavel Bure, Florida Panthers; Basketball: Joe Marshall, Purdue University; Baseball: Rondell White, Montreal Expos; Stunt biker: Eric Carl

HOW IT HAPPENED

Thomas injured his kidney and liver on the first play of the '99 season. While extending to catch a pass, he was hit in the ribs. He left the game, missed the following 12 weeks, and was cleared to return on December 12.

BIOGRAPHY

In his 12 years with the Bills, 33-year-old Thurman Thomas has helped lead them to four straight Super Bowls and was selected to five Pro Bowls. He broke O.J. Simpson's Bills record by rushing for 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons. Before this season, he had missed only eight games in 11 seasons. In 1992, his best season, he recorded 2,113 yards from scrimmage -- best in the NFL that year and 9th all-time. While attending Oklahoma State, he was a first-team All-American and was first-team All-Big Eight three years running.

WHAT IS A LIVER/KIDNEY CONTUSION?

A contusion to either the liver or kidney is a bruise that affects the specific organ. The organs are bruised by direct trauma to the flank area (on the right side of the body, above the pelvis).

DIAGNOSIS

A kidney contusion can be diagnosed many different ways. It can be palpated (physically felt); the patient's urine can be tested for blood; or the doctor can perform an ultrasound, CT scan, or dye study. The pain is described as moderately severe, although it varies depending on the patient.

TREATMENT

The treatment of a contusion to the kidney or liver is rest and plenty of IV fluids. There is little that can be done to help the healing process, which may be slow.

PREVENTION

The only way to prevent the injury is to protect the abdominal region. Padding will decrease the chance of bruising, although normal football padding does not protect the flank area. The "back flap" worn by some players, is too high; only the bulky and awkward flack jacket protects the region.

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