Spring 2007 Issue

Time & Expertise Make The Difference In Patients Recovering From Traumatic Injury
Teenager Is Back On The Basketball Court Six Months After Suffering A Spine Injury

Fig. 1 An MRI shows a severe fracture with swelling of the spinal cord.
Fig. 2 This X-ray shows normal align- ment with healing in progress.
Quinteris Long was 14 years old when he tried a flip on a backyard trampoline and landed on the back of his neck. Right away, he noticed he could not move his arms or his legs. At the hospital, his family was told that he had a 50% chance of walking again. Remarkably, thanks to the speed in which he got to the hospital and the access to state-of-the-art care, he was able to start in his first JV basketball game just six months later. His most recent X-ray shows that he is well on his way to healing. (See Fig. 2)

“Watching Quinteris play in that first basketball game after his injury has to be the highlight of my career thus far,” said neurosurgeon Vinay Deshmukh, M.D., who performed the operation to repair Quinteris’ spine.

Vinay Deshmukh, M.D.
When Quinteris injured his neck, he was transported immediately to Piedmont Medical Center. The emergency department physician contacted Dr. Deshmukh, who then arranged for Quinteris to be transported to the level one trauma center at Carolinas Medical Center.

He could not move his arms or legs and a rapid MRI showed a fracture between his fifth and sixth vertebrae and a large piece of cartilage and bone chip pushing against his spinal cord. (See Fig. 1) After a two-hour surgery, Quinteris’ family was told that he may never recover completely. Amazingly, just five days after the surgery, Quinteris was walking.

While not all spinal trauma stories end with a recovery like Quinteris’, his case illustrates how crucial a role rapid response and treatment play in reaching a positive outcome. Because the brain and spinal cord consume an inordinate share of the body’s oxygen, these structures cannot be deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes without sustaining irreparable injury. Therefore, once a patient has suffered a trauma, the clock begins ticking.

“All members of the team managing a trauma patient must work together,” said Dr. Deshmukh. “Each piece of the puzzle is crucial, from the emergency personnel who arrive on the scene and assess the patient, to the prompt transport to a medical center, to determining the proper diagnosis, to having access to advanced technology and an experienced surgical team. Quinteris’ story shows how an ideal outcome can be achieved when all the pieces come together. ” .

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