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Thread: Head Re-Attached to body - now walking - Dr. Young??

  1. #1

    Head Re-Attached to body - now walking - Dr. Young??

    There was a story on the news about a month ago concerning a teenager who literally disconnected his head from his body. They said the only thing that was holding his head on was the skin of his neck. Surgeons showed that they reattached his head to his spine with 2 screws. They then showed the young man walking with a walker. How did this man not only survive the accident but didn't end up paralyzed? Luck?


  2. #2

  3. #3
    The spinal cord must have still been intact. If it had been severed, he would be SCI or dead.

    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  4. #4
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    beaumont tx usa
    they said the cord was still attached.

  5. #5
    A patient came in our office one day last week and his history included a motorcyle accident in which he broke his neck...C-5. He was in a coma for two weeks and spent 5 months in the wheelchair in rehab. He arrived in our office walking normally under his own speed telling me that he is very well aware that God delivered a blessing but now feels as if there must be something there for him to give back to people who have been in similar accidents but have not fared as I gave him the address of this website.

    Lucky...maybe....Blessing ...maybe....I have no idea.....


    ...and she lived happily ever after...

  6. #6
    Debbie, his spinal cord and arteries were not damaged. Here's the article:

  7. #7

    Luck is defined as the chance happening of a fortunate event. An individual who not only survived a near-decapitation but emerged with most of his neurological function intact was not so much lucky as the recipient of better emergency transport, good emergency care, and superb surgical stabilization.

    Until fairly recently, only a small minority of people survive an upper cervical spinal cord injury. To survive a high cervical injury with function, people must have a capacious spinal canal (so that the spinal cord is not so severe damaged), a rapid emergency transport system with life support services, aggressive emergency care, and good surgical stabilization. For a long time, one or more of these factors were not available. In the 1980's, relatively few people with C4 injuries or higher survived their injuries. I had forgotten about those days until I visited China and India several years ago, visiting many of their top spinal cord injury centers; I was surprised to see *no* person with a C4 injury or higher in any of the centers. They do not have facilities in most emergency rooms to ventilate people with high cervical cord injuries. In the United States, more people with severe high cervical spinal cord injury are showing up in the emergency and surviving their injury. People like Christopher Reeve would not have survived in China but many people with high cervical cord injureis do survive in the U.S., thanks to emergency transport and care.

    Emergency transport is so much better today, even in the last decade compared to the previous decade. Today, anybody who is even suspected of having spinal cord injury is immediately immobilized on a spine board with firm foam support of the head. They are transported within minutes to a Level 1 trauma center where they get a methylprednisolone. In the 1980's, the median time of methylprednisolone treatment (half of the people received the drug before the median time) was 8 hours. In the 1990's, it was 3 hours. Now, it is probably less than an hour.

    Emergency care is likewise much better today. In the United States, most people receive methylprednisolone. In the 1980's, 64% of the people who came to hospital with a diagnosis of spinal cord injury had "complete" injuries. In the 1990's, nearly 67% of the people who came to hospital with spinal cord injury had "incomplete" injuries. Much as I would have liked to attribute this dramatic change to methylprednisolone use which began in 1990, I suspect that it is probably due to better emergency care of patients. Seat belt laws, rapid transport, aggressive restoration of blood pressure, and methylprednisolone may all have combined to increase the rate of "incomplete" spinal cord injury.

    Better surgery. In the 1980's, the tools would not have been available for rapid stabilization of the cervical spinal cord. In the case of a complete detachment, there would have been no easy way to stabilize the cervical spine without internal fixation. You cannot use external traction for such cases. In the 1990's, both posterior and anterior plating devices became available. There was a lot of controversy about where the screws should be placed and screws were nearly banned for a while because there were problems and complications from screws placed in the wrong place. But, as surgeons gained more experience and learned how and where the place the screws, the results of such early stabilization have become much better. I still remember the days when it was experimental surgery and everybody was very skeptical. The teenanger would not have survived if not for improved internal plating technology, the availability of the screws, and the presence of a surgeon who is experienced and able to adapt the procedure.


    [This message was edited by Wise Young on 02-16-03 at 21:32.]

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002


    When I was injured they waited three days until they did the operation, this disturbes me because I feel that if they would have been more aggresive and stabilized my spine sooner I would have some voluntary motor movement. Is this normal to wait soooooo long? I told them I was paralyzed when I got there. Also, I feel that they should put your back on ice ASAP, it works for everything else that is broken, (to keep the swelling down). What about a antianflamatory drug as well?

  9. #9
    In 1984 they put me in traction for 30 days before they operated. C4-7

    This is the hand I was dealt; I must play it to the end.

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