Curtis Williams Update (7 p.m. Oct. 29)

Oct. 29, 2000

Rick Neuheisel on Curtis Williams

'I got back from Sanford Hospital, flew back in from San Francisco a little bit before five o'clock. I got a chance to see Curtis this morning and to speak with his doctors. I spoke with them again last night. I think I updated everyone with respect to what the doctors said last night that there was an injury to the spinal cord. It did not appear to be a break. X-rays where negative to a break in the neck or to the spine. X-rays were negative to a dislocation.

The MRI did reveal there was blood in the spine meaning there was some injury and trauma to the spine. Apparently it happened in the C-2 vertebrae, which is very high up. Meaning that all function below kind of shuts down when there is a contusion to (the area). I am really just repeating what has been told to me.

The good news is that there is not a break, but the doctors are very, very careful to do anything except to offer uncertainty. It is not a situation that I think protocol in their business, and you could certainly ask them, in this type of injury is to wait and see. And offered no other words of encouragement or words of pessimism or anything like that. It is just a very, very middle of the road, let's wait and see. I think they've seen these situations go several different directions.

I talked to Curtis' brothers who are still at the Stanford hospital and who are going to remain there, David and Paul. They are spending time with Curtis. Bob Hauck and I got a chance to see Curtis today. He was alert and he knew we were there, but, at that time, he could not do anything but to blink his eyes and to acknowledge that we were there. It is a very traumatic experience for everyone involved. We are going to meet with the team tonight at 7:30 and update the kids as to what Curtis' situation is and hopefully find a way to rise up and play a very talented Arizona team next Saturday.

Question: Has he regained consciousness?

Neuheisel: He had regained conscious. He was kind of coming in and out. They are still using sedative-type drugs to insure that he does not jostle himself into a position they don't want him into. Apparently he was trying to spit the ventilator out, so they put him under again.

Question: He is still on a ventilator?

Neuheisel: The reason being, the nature and the place of the injury, the C-2 vertebrae was explained to me that it is very high, and so just as a precautionary measure. It was explained to us that Curtis was breathing on his way to the hospital and doing so in a strong way. That's another positive sign.

Question: What does the C-2 mean?

Neuheisel: Just because it is so high, it controls everything below it. That is a research question that I am unfamiliar with.

Question: What was the damage. What was the word they used to describe the damage?

Neuheisel: A contusion.

Question: Did he move an arm or a foot?

Neuheisel: There was a reported movement of a shoulder. But that was this morning and I have not heard of any further updates.

Question: Has he spoken at all?

Neuheisel: Like I said, he has the ventilator in his mouth , so it is impossible for him to.

Question: The MRI revealed blood in the contusion/

Neuheisel: Blood is basically swell and the contusion caused the swelling. It is kind of the same thing. There is blood in the cord.

Question: Did the doctors give you a timetable?

Neuheisel: That is what I'm trying to explain. They don't give you anything. They said it could be days, weeks or months. You just don't know. These things all have lives of their own.

Question: Is there any period coming up in this whole process where they think they might have a better idea.

Neuheisel: It sounded very open-ended when I left today.

Question: Is this something that might threaten his career as a football player?

Neuheisel: I'm not sure anybody is concerned about his football career right now. We're just anxious for him to return to full health.

Question: Did you stay the night in the hospital, can you tell us what happened after the game?

Neuheisel: I and coach Hauck, Bob Hauck his position coach, went immediately to the hospital. The team joined us there shortly thereafter. We kind of briefed the team as to Curtis' condition. We had a doctor that was able to give everybody the lay of the land. Curtis' brother, David, said a few words. We said a team prayer and then the players got back on the buses and took the charter home. Bob Hauck and I remained at the hospital for three hours. Tyrone Willingham came over and spent some time at the hospital. We certainly want to say thank you to him and his entire staff and the medical personnel at Stanford. They were outstanding. If this had to happen, you are certainly in the hands of some of the best physicians in the world at Stanford University.

The protocol in this type catastrophic injury was pretty right on. The guys out there knew what they were doing and Curtis had the best possible care.

Question: When you were there was he able to answer questions with his eyes?

Neuheisel: We did not ask questions when Bob and I went in there. I'm told there were doctors and such that were doing that and Curtis responded. Bobby and I went in there and just basically offered him words of encouragement. We told him the team was 100 percent behind him and anxious for him to return as soon as possible. We said we were going to play our tails off for him. When I said that he blinked several times. It was an emotional time. I don't think we were in there more than five minutes.

Question: Do you think it is going to be hard to have a regular week?

Neuheisel: I don't think there is any question that it is going to be difficult. I know for a fact old number 25 would want it that way. We've got to find a way to get up and play and to play with the kind of intensity he brought to the game. He is a fun player to watch. I have a real deep feeling that he is going to find a way out of the wood here. I'm hopeful our team will play like Curtis Williams this weekend.

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