Paul Williams, a champion boxer, is left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident; chiropractor Dr. Bruce L. Salzinger, D.C., CCSP, weighs in on whether it’s ever possible for Williams to return to the ring…
Boxer Paul Williams was left paralyzed after a motorcycle crash near Atlanta Sunday, his spinal cord severed. Doctors are unsure whether the 30-year-old, also known as ‘The Punisher,’ will be able to walk again; he currently cannot move from the waist down. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday; Williams’s manager says he is in great spirits but cast doubt on whether the boxer can continue his career.
Dr. Bruce L. Salzinger, D.C., CCSP, a chiropractor based in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, GA, who has been a member of medical teams to a number of international sports events, including the Costa Rican National Olympics, told genConnect that it would be ”miraculous” if Williams recovers back to the level he was performing at before the accident. His prognosis very much depends on exactly where his spine was severed, and how deeply, he added.
“Appreciate that the spinal cord is a direct extension of the brain … it’s best looked at like a fiber optic cable,” Dr. Salzinger explained.
The fact that Williams is talking and seems to be able to move the upper part of his body indicates, for example, that his injury likely is different than that of former actor Christopher Reeve, whose central nervous system was damaged after being thrown from a horse in 1995. Reeves, who became a quadriplegic, could not move or feel anything from the neck down, or breathe on his own. Although Reeve eventually made miraculous gains in his recovery, he was never “cured.” However, his improvement gave hope to those looking for ways for the central nervous system to repair itself.
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“Prior to that, the central nervous system had no ability, based on what I’m aware of, to reconnect, but in the peripheral nervous system, the ability is there, if it’s not too far apart,” Dr. Salzinger said. The injury point where a partial sever occurred can, in some cases, be reconnected with certain stimulation.
“If it’s a full sever, that’s a whole other issue,” he added.
The fact that doctors are reportedly stabilizing Williams above his injury point, Dr. Salzinger said, ”means he must have had some something serious [happened] there.”
The sever could affect two places: the central or peripheral nervous system, he explained. The peripheral nervous system consists of nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord, and connects the central nervous system (spinal cord, brain) to the body’s organs and limbs.
Williams’ injury is potentially reparable to a point, depending on where exactly the injury is, Dr. Salzinger continued.
But, he added, based on what little news we have of Williams’ exact condition, “his chances of coming back [to boxing] are zero to none.”
Williams reportedly crashed while trying to avoid an oncoming car after trying to maneuver away from another car in a lane next to him. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Williams was traveling too fast on South Marietta Parkway when he tried to negotiate a curve and crashed into an embankment.
Williams has defeated the likes of world-champion boxers like Winky Wright, Sergio Martinez, Kermit Cintron, Carlos Quintana and Antonio Margarito. His scheduled fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas has been canceled.
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