Promising Cherokee County Athlete Suffers Spinal Cord Injury

Like I wrote about last week, Spring can be a dangerous time for teenagers, especially those graduating seniors suffering from senioritis. But last month’s news also brought home that good clean fun can sometimes lead to injury.

A Cherokee County graduating senior was gravely injured when he dove into the shallow end of a neighborhood swimming pool. Matt Blaylock, 18, was flown to the trauma ward at Grady Memorial Hospital following the accident, where he was at first listed as in critical condition but later upgraded to fair. Blaylock had been scheduled to attend graduation ceremonies the next day at Cherokee High School.

A spinal cord injury could be a devastating blow for Blaylock, who played football and basketball for Cherokee high and an all-Cherokee County selection at linebacker. A consummate athlete, he had won a football scholarship to Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee.

The sad fact is that, according to the Mayo Clinic, most spinal cord injury causes some loss of movement or even paralysis in the site below the injury. Spinal cord injury involving much of the body is called paraplegia or tetraplegia, while spinal cord injury involving only the lower body is called paraplegia.

Generally, the higher up along the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more likely the chance for paralysis. Spinal cord injuries are classified as “partial injuries” or “complete injuries” depending on the severity of the damage. With partial injuries, parts of the spinal cord are still functioning and able to send messages to the brain. People suffering partial spinal cord injuries may be able to feel sensations and motor functions below the site of the injury. A complete spinal cord injury results in total or near total loss of motor control below the site of the injury. Don’t be fooled by the connotations of the word “complete.” The spinal cord is almost never cut in half.

The difference between partial and complete spinal cord injuries is significant because people with partial spinal cord injuries are often able to recover some motor functions and sensation while those who suffered complete injuries are most often unable to make as significant progress.

That is not to say that treatment is not available and making new advances every day. Christopher Reeve, after his fall off a horse in 1995, advocated for victims of spinal cord injury and worked to increase awareness and promote research. With treatment, many people suffering from spinal cord injury are leading fulfilling, productive lives.

Blaylock is in good hands. After his stay at Grady, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center’s spinal cord injury unit. The Shepherd Center has a national reputation for superior care and Blaylock will receive excellent medical attention while he stays there.

If you are a loved one has experienced a spinal cord injury, you may have legal recourse. Call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 for caring, aggressive representation.

For more on this story

Cherokee High Senior in hospital following pool mishap, Atlanta Journal Constitution