Ask Dr John Esq – Former 7 foot 6 inch NBA player, Shawn Bradley, Paralyzed after Bicycle Crash

basketball falling from basketballhoop

The importance of bicycle safety made headlines when news broke that former 7 foot 6 inch NBA player, Shawn Bradley, was tragically paralyzed while riding his bike. He was hit from behind by a minivan. The incident occurred on January 20, 2021.

We have been informed that since the crash, Bradley, the former 1993 number two overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers, has undergone a neck fusion and is performing rehab at his home in Utah. Reports are that Bradley was only one block from his home when the crash occurred.

Bradley has remained positive in the aftermath saying that he wants to use this incident to increase awareness of bicycle safety. We have previously written on this subject and have represented individuals who have been harmed in bicycle collisions. As such, we applaud and support Bradley’s positive approach to these types of catastrophic injuries.

bicycle helmet and equipment on ground
As far as the injury itself, not many details have been released other than the need for a neck surgical fusion and that he is dealing with paraplegia.

x-ray_skull and cervical spine lateral view

In another Ask Dr. John article, Spinal Cord Injuries and different types of paralysis. Paraplegia refers to complete loss of motor and/or sensory function in the non-cervical portions of the spinal cord. This means the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral part of the spinal cord has been injured. Accordingly, paraplegia is distinguished from quadriplegia or tetraplegia because arm functioning is typically maintained.”

The information regarding paraplegia, however, does not seem to match the requirement of a surgical fusion in the neck. A surgical neck fusion implies that there was instability in the cervical spine, which likely contributed to Bradley’s paralysis. Accordingly, if the cervical spine was indeed involved, Bradley may be dealing with tetra- or quadriplegia which will require more significant rehab. In either case, we hope Bradley can gain as much function as possible and be a prominent role model for bike safety.

Dr. John, Esq. is both an attorney and a physician. Before obtaining his law degree, Dr. John Naranja practiced for approximately 12 years as an orthopedic surgeon.
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