Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Very Public SCI

On Sunday, NFL football player Kevin Everett sustained a cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) in a game. Apparently he collided with another player while his head was in a lowered position, fell to the ground and was unable to move afterwards. He was transported to a hospital for surgery and remains on a respirator. Doctors call his injury "catastrophic" and are not sure that he'll walk again.

This kind of spinal cord injury may happen infrequently in the NFL, but it happens all the time to others - including young people like Kevin who are injured in car accidents, diving accidents, cycling accidents, gymnasts, etc. Spinal cord rehab hospitals in our country and around the world treat many in his age range who are dealing with the aftereffects of such an injury. As a person with quadriplegia, I've met many people who sustained a SCI while playing sports. So Kevin's story is not unusual.

My hope is that it will help educate people about not only what is required for someone to receive the proper care after such an injury, but the ongoing needs involved for medical equipment and services. I'd like to see coverage of not only his injury and its immediate aftermath, but what it takes to get him "the best care" as one NFL player said. Such a statement highlights the obvious - that after such an injury, families and loved ones, within their resources, struggle to provide the best chances for recovery to someone with a SCI. And then, afterwards, there is the need for accessible housing, equipment and ongoing care.

These are the real stories - the ones about living every day, not just the dramatic impact on the field and the diagnosis. It's the living with a disability that requires the headlines - and rarely gets them.

If nothing else, perhaps stories such as this can serve as a reminder that all of us are vulnerable to joining the ranks of the disabled - and that all of us deserve the best in services, care and other resources.

And my prayers and best wishes go out to Kevin and his family and loved ones, as well as all those who are dealing with the same issues in their lives.

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