Entries in Spinal Injury (2)


Peyton Manning’s Surgery, the Go-To Procedure for Herniated Discs

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback and four-time MVP Peyton Manning is out of the game after having neck surgery Thursday—his third surgical procedure in the past 19 months. In a statement released Thursday, the team said Manning had a “single level anterior fusion” procedure, which was “uneventful.”

The procedure is a common one, said Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who works with players from the New York Jets and the New York Islanders.

“I see these procedures not only in professional athletes, but in many different types of individuals,” Hecht said.

Hecht said such surgery is the go-to procedure for patients with a herniated disk for whom other less invasive methods, such as medication and physical therapy, have not worked. A herniated disk puts painful pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord and can cause numbness or weakness in the arms. Manning, 35, had surgery in May to repair a bulging disk in his neck and recently reported pain in his upper back and neck.

“The goal of the surgery is to decompress the nerves, to relieve that painful pressure,” Hecht said.

In an anterior cervical fusion, doctors make an incision into the neck, remove the disk between two vertebrae in the spine and put a piece of bone and a metal plate in its place.

Dr. Mark Knaub, a spinal surgeon at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, said recovery can take two to four months for someone with an average, non-strenuous job. But for an athlete playing a contact sport such as football, that recovery time can be much longer—up to nine months, in some cases. Knaub said that’s because doctors must make sure that the athlete’s bones have fused.

“Sometimes recovery is accelerated in professional athletes,” Knaub said. “But I’d be surprised if Manning made it back to the field this season.”

The Colts said they’re not estimating a date for Manning’s return to the game.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Quadriplegic Begs to Die, But Hospital Refuses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ANTIOCH, Ill.) -- For the last 18 months, Dan Crews has been waging a battle to die -- a battle that he is losing.

For the last 24 years -- since he was paralyzed at age three in a car accident -- Crews has been a quadriplegic, able to speak and eat, but not breathe on his own.

"Just imagine having your arms and legs strapped down 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not being able to do anything about it and not going anywhere," said the 27-year-old, who lives with his mother in Antioch, Ill.

"I have no friends," Crews told ABC News. "I have no education. No education prospects. No job prospects. I have no love prospects. All I want is to no longer live like this."

The Supreme Court ruled a decade ago that a person can refuse medical treatment -- provided they are competent. And that is the biggest hurdle for Crews.

The head psychiatrist at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, where Crews has received most of his treatment since he was airlifted from the accident, says he is depressed and that overrides his ability to make a life or death decision.

The hospital did not return calls for comment, but medical records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel revealed that psychiatrists and mental health professionals have ruled Crews is depressed and must be treated before they will agree to such an irrevocable step.

Crews is now on antidepressants, but has refused psychiatric care. When he tried to starve himself, doctors threatened to use a feeding tube and he relented. But he hasn't changed his mind about dying.

An estimated five to 10 percent of spinal cord injury patients contemplate suicide, six times higher than in the general population, according to the Kessler Institute in New Jersey, one of the nation's top rehabilitation centers. It treated the late actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a riding accident.

"Quality of life is determined more by support and reintegration into the community rather than level of severity or injury," said Loran C. Vocaturo, Kessler's director of neuropsychology. "Paraplegics don't do better than quads. It's more about the perception of their health status and level of care giving."

But, said Youngner, "there is a difference between being depressed and unhappy. Clinical depression is an ethical diagnosis and a checklist of symptoms. If people are taking the position he is depressed, he has no chance."

And that is precisely the case with Crews, who prays every day that he will die.

He doubts the hospital will reverse its decision -- ever.

"They have been screwing with me and destroying my life," he said. "Unless someone breaks into my house and kills me or there's a drive-by shooting where I live, I can't win this fight."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio