College football games marred by spine, head injuries
Saturday’s football game between Tulane and the University of Tulsa ended with a serious spinal injury for senior safety Devon Walker, who was rushed to the hospital with a broken neck and paralysis just before the end of the first half.
The injury occurred as Mr. Walker was making a tackle in the final play of the first half. Medical personnel from both teams rushed to the field as Mr. Walker lay motionless, as the crowd at H.A. Chapman Stadium fell silent.
According to the AP, several coaches were emotionally distraught when the ambulance took the motionless player to a Tulsa hospital. One doctor who tended to Mr. Walker told a postgame news conference that Mr. Walker never lost consciousness and was able to breathe on his own.
“He was stable when we transported him,” Dr. Buddy Savoie said. “I do not think, based on the information we have, his life was ever in danger.”
Mr. Walker has underwent surgery Monday, but doctors say it is too early to tell whether the injury will leave him permanently paralyzed.
“These kind of injuries take 24, 48, sometimes 72 hours to fully declare themselves,” Dr. Greg Stewart, Tulane’s director of sports medicine, told the Associated Press before Mr. Walker was sent to surgery at St. Francis Hospital. “We don’t know what the long-term implications and outcomes are going to be,” he added.
Also on Saturday, Arkansas senior quarterback Tyler Wilson received a blow to the head during the game against the University of Louisiana Monroe, forcing him out of play at halftime. Mr. Wilson stayed in Little Rock after the game for observation. His prognosis is good and there is talk of him returning to play in time for this Saturday’s game against top-ranked Alabama, but Razorbacks coach John Smith said Mr. Wilson was taking it day by day.
Mr. Wilson’s apparent concussion wasn’t the only head injury of the Arkansas-ULM game. Starting defensive back Tevin Mitchel suffered a “frightening helmet-to-helmet collision” on the field that appeared to knock the player out cold. Mr. Mitchel was removed from the field by stretcher and taken to a Little Rock hospital for treatment.
Coach Smith said that Mr. Mitchel’s return to play on Saturday was doubtful and gave no indication of when he would be back in the game. Mr. Wilson’s and Mr. Mitchel’s concussions were just two of “several big hits” that occurred during that game.
A growing body of research has found that repeated blows to the head may make football players much more likely to develop degenerative brain diseases, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), Alzheimer’s Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
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