HOUSTON -- Kevin Everett made more significant strides over the weekend in his recovery from a life-threatening spinal cord injury.
The Buffalo Bills tight end lifted his right arm for the first time Sunday, a day after sitting up in bed for four hours, Dr. Teodoro Castillo, his attending physician, said Monday. Everett couldn't sit up for longer than 90 minutes before he was moved to Memorial Hermann Hospital from a Buffalo hospital on Friday.
"Nobody can predict the future but if Kevin continues to show
recovery, I am optimistic of a good outcome," Castillo said.
Everett was injured making a tackle during the Bills' season opener against Denver on Sept. 9. Doctors initially said there was little chance Everett would walk again, but that prognosis was revised after Everett showed quick progress in the days after the injury.
Castillo and a team of doctors from Memorial Hermann said Everett can now lift his legs in bed and move his upper extremities.
Castillo said there are several factors working in the 25-year-old Everett's favor: the rapid response after the injury, the medical and surgical care he received in Buffalo and his age. Younger patients often recover better.
In addition, said Castillo, Everett has "a positive attitude and the motivation to work hard."
Everett suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury, meaning there was preservation of some sensation and movement below the injury. Chances for recovery are better in such injuries, said Dr. William Donovan, medical director of Memorial Hermann.
He has more movement and strength in his legs and arms, a condition called central cord syndrome.
Both Castillo and Donovan said they have seen patients with the same level of injury as Everett make a full recovery.
Returning to Houston, where Everett lives in the offseason and is closer to family, also will help Everett's recovery, his doctors said.
"He has a very positive outlook," Castillo said. "The nice thing he told me was just being home, close to home."
Over the weekend, Everett had visits from family members, and at one point, had a big smile on his face while cradling a baby on his chest, Castillo said.
Everett demonstrated that positive attitude and determination to recover when he had to overcome two previous injuries, said Dr. Walt Lowe, co-director of the Roger Clemens Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance.
In college at Miami, Everett required surgery for a shoulder injury, and he missed most of his rookie year with the Bills because of torn knee ligament.
"Kevin has overcome major surgical events, major injuries over and over again," said Lowe, team physician for the Houston Texans. "In each one of those settings, he exhibited an incredible positive attitude and the will to get over it."
But Castillo and the other doctors stressed Everett's recovery would be a long process.
Before he can walk, Everett first has to tolerate long periods of sitting, then move to standing activities.
"The main thing is we have to base it on what he shows us," said Castillo. "So far everything looks bright, and I'm optimistic that walking would definitely be a possibility for him."