The use of systemic hypothermia for the treatment of an acute cervical spinal cord injury in a professional football player.

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN Case Report. OBJECTIVE We will describe the injury and clinical course of an NFL Football player who sustained a complete spinal cord injury and was treated with conventional care in addition to modest systemic hypothermia. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA Systemically induced moderate hypothermia is a potentially neuroprotective intervention in acute spinal cord injury. However, case descriptions of human patients receiving systemic hypothermia after spinal cord injuries are lacking in the literature. METHODS Here, we present the case of a National Football League player who sustained a complete (ASIA A) spinal cord injury from a C3/4 fracture dislocation. Moderate systemic hypothermia was instituted immediately after his injury, in addition to standard medical/surgical treatment, including, surgical decompression and intravenous methylprednisolone. RESULTS The patient experienced significant and rapid neurologic improvement, and within weeks of his injury was walking with harness assistance. Since that time, the patient has continued to make significant progress in his rehabilitation (now ASIA D). CONCLUSION The extent to which this hypothermia contributed to his neurologic recovery is difficult to determine. It is hoped that this case will draw attention to the need for further preclinical and clinical studies to elucidate the role of hypothermia in acute spinal cord injury. Until these studies are completed, it is impossible to advocate for systemic hypothermia as a standard of care.

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