Friday, April 25, 2008
Medical Reports: Healthcast: Saline solution for spinal injuries
You may remember, last year, Buffalo Bills football player Kevin Everett fractured his spine during a game -- nearly ending his life. Not only did he survive, but a breakthrough treatment has him walking again. As Seven's Christine Cruz shows us in today's Healthcast, this first-rate procedure is not just for football stars.
WSVN -- Manny Gomez spent his life as a cop with the Miami Mounted Patrol, but, two years ago, a fall from his horse changed everything.
Manny Gomez: "I lost balance, and I came head first, slowly came down, and I hit my head."
As soon as he hit the ground, he knew something was terribly wrong.
Manny Gomez: "My whole body was frozen. I couldn't move at all."
Doctors said he'd never walk again.
Manny Gomez: "In seconds, your life changes, takes a complete change."
Then, his life changed again when he got an experimental treatment at the University of Miami.
Within hours of his fall, doctors ran icy cold saline through Manny's body, dropping his body temperature to 92 degrees for two days.
Dr. Dalton Dietrich III, Miami Project to Cure Paralysis: "It protects those axons running up and down the spinal cord, which is extremely important in having the brain talk to your muscles and vice versa."
Researcher Dalton Dietrich says cooling the body protects against the damage that follows the initial injury.
Dr. Dalton Dietrich III: "If you can limit those secondary injuries, you can turn a complete injury possibly into an incomplete injury."
For patients, that could mean the difference between walking and not walking, and, so far, early studies are promising.
Dr. Dalton Dietrich III: "You need therapies that target multiple injury mechanisms and cooling a patient a couple degrees seems to work very, very well."
It took Manny a few months to learn to walk again, and he continues to go to physical therapy. Still, every day is a humbling reminder of how lucky he is to be on his feet.
Manny Gomez: "People don't know what they have until they lose it. Life taught me how to walk again."
The experimental treatment is still under study and is also being tested on stroke and brain injury patients.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The Miami Project