The use of systemic hypothermia for the treatment of an acute cervical spinal cord injury in a professional Football player

Andrew Cappuccino, Leslie J. Bisson, Bud Carpenter, John Marzo, W. Dalton Dietrich, Helen Cappuccino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Study Design: Case Report. Objective: We will describe the injury and clinical course of an NFL Football player who sustained a complete spinal cord injury and was treated with conventional care in addition to modest systemic hypothermia. Summary of Background Data: Systemically induced moderate hypothermia is a potentially neuroprotective intervention in acute spinal cord injury. However, case descriptions of human patients receiving systemic hypothermia after spinal cord injuries are lacking in the literature. Methods: Here, we present the case of a National Football League player who sustained a complete (ASIA A) spinal cord injury from a C3/4 fracture dislocation. Moderate systemic hypothermia was instituted immediately after his injury, in addition to standard medical/surgical treatment, including, surgical decompression and intravenous methylprednisolone. Results: The patient experienced significant and rapid neurologic improvement, and within weeks of his injury was walking with harness assistance. Since that time, the patient has continued to make significant progress in his rehabilitation (now ASIA D). Conclusion: The extent to which this hypothermia contributed to his neurologic recovery is difficult to determine. It is hoped that this case will draw attention to the need for further preclinical and clinical studies to elucidate the role of hypothermia in acute spinal cord injury. Until these studies are completed, it is impossible to advocate for systemic hypothermia as a standard of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E57-E62
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Cervical
  • Football
  • Hypothermia
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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