BUFFALO – Kevin Everett voluntarily moved his arms and legs on Tuesday when partially awakened, prompting a neurosurgeon to say the Buffalo Bills’ tight end would walk again, contrary to the grim prognosis given a day before.
“Based on our experience, the fact that he’s moving so well, so early after such a catastrophic injury, means he will walk again,” said Dr. Barth Green, chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Miami school of medicine.
“It’s totally spectacular, totally unexpected,” Green told The Associated Press by telephone from Miami.
Green said he’s been consulting with doctors in Buffalo since Everett sustained a life-threatening spinal cord injury Sunday after ducking his head while tackling the Denver Broncos’ Domenik Hixon during the second-half kickoff of the Bills’ season opener.
Everett dropped face-first to the ground after his helmet hit Hixon high on the left shoulder and side of the helmet.
Everett remains in intensive care at Buffalo’s Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital and will be slowly taken off sedation and have his body temperature warmed over the next day, Green said. Doctors will then begin taking the player off life support systems, including a respirator, currently controlling his body functions.
On Monday, Bills orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, said Everett likely wouldn’t walk again.
Cappuccino was not available Tuesday, and hospital spokesman Mike Hughes declined comment.
In a report Tuesday evening, Buffalo’s WIVB-TV quoted Cappuccino as saying: “We may be witnessing a miracle.”
Green said the key was the quick action taken by Cappuccino to run an ice-cold saline solution through Everett’s system that put the player in a hypothermic state. Doctors at the Miami Project have demonstrated in their laboratories that such action significantly decreases the damage to the spinal cord due to swelling and movement.
Cappuccino said Monday that the 25-year-old did have touch sensation throughout his body, showed signs of voluntary movement and was able to breathe on his own before being sedated. But he cautioned that Everett’s injury remained life-threatening because he was still susceptible to blood clots, infection and breathing failure.
Green noted that Everett and Wilson have ties to Miami and the Miami Project; Everett played there and Wilson is one of the project’s largest donors.
“It’s an amazing group of circumstances. It’s a home run. It’s a touchdown,” Green said.