Cervical Spine Fracture
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?
- 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.
- 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.
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?
hard-working attitude has been making a difference.
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.