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Friends and fans experienced a scary moment in late September when University of Michigan starting quarterback Wilton Speight was sacked hard by two Purdue defenders and wasn’t immediately able to get up. It was later revealed that he’d suffered a spine injury—three fractured vertebrae—and was not cleared to return to the team, even for non-contact practice, until the middle of November.
A few days after the September 23 game in which Speight was injured, Michigan’s coaching staff voiced criticism about the quality of the facilities at Purdue, including their medical capability. The issue was considered serious enough that it was brought up again at the next meeting of Big Ten athletic directors in early October.
Speight’s parents were not satisfied with that action, which has not yet brought about any visible changes. His father has complained publicly that the medical facilities at Purdue’s stadium weren’t as good as the worst high school visitors’ locker room he’s seen, and he described the procedures for evaluation and treatment provided by the home team as a “train wreck.”
The criticism was aimed not only at the onsite facilities, but also at hitches in the process of getting Speight to proper facilities nearby.
Spinal injuries have not received the same kind of attention as brain injuries in recent years, but they should be of similar concern. While a brain injury can lead to degenerative problems that stick with an athlete for life and get worse over time, a spinal cord injury can result in immediate problems.
If not addressed quickly and properly, this kind of damage can become worse; and when not treated immediately and competently, a spinal injury can result in permanent problems, including paralysis or death.
Speight’s injury was treated properly after the initial missteps, and there have been no indications that he’ll have any lasting problems. However, the injury still seems to have ended Speight’s Michigan football career: Last week, faced with stiff competition for playing time while continuing to recover, he announced that he’d be leaving the school and that he hoped to play for another school in his final year of eligibility.
Athletes aren’t the only ones at risk of spine injuries. More than 17,000 people suffer serious spinal cord injuries every year, but sports injuries account for less than 10 percent of the total, with motor vehicle accidents, falls, and acts of violence more likely to cause this kind of injury.
If you have suffered a serious spine injury, talk to us. David Christensen Law focuses on personal injury claims, including spine injury cases, and has helped many clients reach successful settlements. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your unique circumstances. Call us at 248-213-4900 or fill out the form below.