Everett arrives at Houston hospital to continue recovery

Updated: September 21, 2007, 8:07 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett returned to his native Texas on Friday to be closer to his family for the next phase of his recovery from a life-threatening spinal cord injury.

"Kevin's trip went pretty good. He stayed awake the entire time. He's fine," Eric Armstead, a partner of Everett's agent, Brian Overstreet, told The Associated Press. "He's doing well and he's resting. That's the news: He's resting."

Kevin Everett
AP Photo/David J. PhillipBuffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett arrived Friday at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Memorial Hermann Hospital to begin the next phase of his rehabilitation from a spinal cord injury.

Accompanied by his mother and girlfriend, Everett was transferred by private plane from Buffalo to Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital, which provides medical rehabilitation for patients of catastrophic trauma such as brain or spinal cord injuries.

Armstead said Everett continues to breathe on his own and is not connected to any devices save for one intravenous drip. He also said Everett was pleased to meet with close family, including his three younger sisters, and friends who were unable to visit him in Buffalo.

"He was in great spirits," Armstead said.

Everett's transfer to the hospital's 116-bed facility came less than two weeks after he was hurt making a tackle in the Bills' season opener against Denver on Sept. 9.

Doctors initially feared Everett would never walk again after he arrived at Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital paralyzed from the neck down. Everett began moving his arms and legs a few days later, leading doctors to significantly upgrade their prognosis. They're now confident the player could be walking within weeks.

Everett, who grew up in nearby Port Arthur, makes his offseason home in Houston. His mother, Patricia Dugas, sported a Bills football jersey with Everett's number and name on it while riding in a town car behind the ambulance that transported him from the airport.

Dugas appeared to be in good spirits as she sat in the hospital's cafeteria later Friday but declined to talk with reporters.

Dr. Barth Green, chairman of the neurological surgery department at the University of Miami school of medicine, suggested that Everett continue his rehabilitation in Houston, saying it's important for him to have family and friends nearby.

Green, co-founder of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, has been in constant contact with Everett's doctors, who plan to have Everett try to stand on his own in the next few days.

"They're very confident he'll be walking very soon ... in the next days or weeks, not months," Green said Thursday. "I think the future for him is very bright."

Everett's next stage of rehab will involve a team of physical and occupational therapists working on getting the player walking and able to do normal day-to-day activities, such as getting dressed.

"They'll work with Kevin and his family seven days a week to get him as independent as possible as quickly as possible," Green said on Friday. "And then, over the next weeks, he'll transfer from an inpatient to an outpatient program."

Green said Everett is right on schedule in his recovery, noting most patients that have no injuries other than to their spinal cord enter this phase of rehab within two weeks.

NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw and NFLPA president Troy Vincent, a former teammate of Everett's in Buffalo, visited him Thursday. Vincent and Everett joked around during their visit, Vincent told the AP on Friday.

"He said, 'You're the last person I wanted to see me here in this position,' " Vincent said.

Everett made the joke because Vincent always kidded Everett about spending so much time being treated in the Bills training room when the two played together.

Vincent, released by the Bills in October, kidded Everett that he needed a haircut and a shave.

He called Everett's recovery "powerful" and reminded Bills fans to continue sending the player cards and letters of support now that he's in Houston.

Vincent added the NFLPA has contacted Texans players, asking them to adopt Everett as an unofficial teammate now that he's in Houston.

Vincent said Everett qualifies as a vested veteran by earning his third full NFL season when the Bills placed him on the injured reserve list last week. That means the player is eligible for the union's lifetime compensation package for total and permanent disability.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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