Devon Walker

Cervical Spine Fracture

Anatomy:

  • The spinal cord which includes the 7 cervical vertebrae (C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7).
  • Vital vessels
  • Nerves, Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons.
  • Endocrine glands.

How did the injury occur?

Walker collide with teammate and defensive lineman Julius Warmsley in a helmet-to-helmet accidental blow. The two were trying to tackle a Tulsa player on the final play before halftime but hit each other. Walker did not get up and experienced an immediate drop in blood pressure. Walker's vertebrae squeezed against his spinal cord so forcefully that it cut off his breathing mechanism and nearly severed the cord altogether.

Is this injury common?

Cervical spine fractures are very common among sports that involve violent physical contact like football.

Recovery:

  1. Devon Walker is stuck in a wheelchair because he is paralyzed from his injury. He had trouble speaking and breathing although he made some improvements. Walker currently experiences full function from his shoulders up to his head, but has quite limited arm and leg movement. Walker registers some sensation to touch, temperature and pressure. A machine that pumps air through a tube in his neck helps him breathe.
  2. There is not an specific time for recovering. It all depends on the severeness of the injury. Walker has been paralyzed for about two years and has only made little improvement.
  3. Physical therapy will be given to build strength in the muscles of the neck to increase stability and better protect the cervical spine. Cervical collars, traction and surgery can be used to immobilize and stabilize the neck after a cervical fracture.

How has the injury affected the athlete?

Walker's injury affected his entire life. He lost the ability to walk, run, and of course play football. He has being improving the quality of his life. Devon is progressing to improved sitting balance and also needs less assistance to maintain himself. His optimistic,

hard-working attitude has been making a difference.

Comparison:

DeAntre Turman, a high school junior, was injured while being involved in a tackle during a preseason scrimmage. Turman suffered a broken neck with a fracture of his third cervical vertebra. Unlike Devon Walker, Turman didn't have the same luck, he passed away after his injury.

After the injury...

Walker is taking only one extra year to finish his degree studying cell and molecular biology. He’s always been interested in health care, and after graduation he may pursue work in biomechanical engineering or spinal cord research. He also has ideas about expanding his foundation, which was started to help cover his family’s medical expenses, into one that helps others who have suffered traumatic injuries.

Cost:

The expenses vary on the depth of the injury.

My thoughts...

Would be very negative. I don't think I would have such a positive perspective in a situation like that. Being paralyzed to me is like being dead. You can't move at all & you're stuck in a wheelchair that's not life.