Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox is expected to have surgery to stabilize a vertebra today in Chicago and, just a few hours after his injury, the prognosis for his playing career and life were good.
Early reports on Knox, who suffered a mid-back injury when he was nearly doubled over backwards on a play early in the game against Seattle, indicate that he has feeling and movement in his extremities.
“There is a positive prognosis for his playing career and quality of life,” a Bears spokesman said after the game (via the Chicago Tribune). Coach Lovie Smith told reporters that “"Johnny has total movement throughout his body. ... He is not paralyzed or anything like that.”
A positive outcome might not have seemed likely immediately after the scary, freak injury. Neel Anand, director of Orthopaedic Spine Surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, told Sean Jensen that he was encouraged by the news that Knox could move his limbs. “Neurologically, he's completely fine,” Anand said (via the Chicago Sun-Times). ”The only thing left is the nature of the stability.”
Anand said the most common injury, based on the nature of the collision, occurs at the junction of the thoracic and lumbar curvatures. Doctors will be looking to determine whether Knox has suffered “unstable or potentially unstable fracture.” Surgeons most likely will stabilize the fracture with screws and rods. “If it's an innocuous fracture, and all he needs is screws and rods, he could come back in three to six months,” Anand said.
Anand told the Sun-Times that full movement bodes well for Knox. “He should be okay by next season, even if it's a complete reconstruction,” he said.