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CG football player suffers neck injury

COAL GROVE — After a routine play during the Coal Grove Hornets’ football practice on Wednesday, freshman running back and defensive lineman Nathaniel Brumett told his coach his arm felt “tingly.”

Afterward Nathaniel told his mother, Brooke, he thought he had a stinger, a common football injury characterized by a shooting or stinging pain that travels down one arm and is followed by numbness and weakness.

It would soon be discovered the injury was much more serious.

What happened was Nathaniel had fractured cervical vertebrae, or had a broken neck. The cervical vertebrae are seven bony rings in the neck at the base of the skull. They are the thinnest and most delicate bones but are the catalysts for support and movement of the head and neck as well as protecting the spinal cord.

The neck injury spurred the release of a blood clot that went to Nathaniel’s brain and a few minutes later, he suffered a stroke.

“We went straight to the emergency room at St. Mary’s in Ironton for a CT scan and it didn’t show any signs of a stroke,” Brooke said. “The staff there suggested we take him to Columbus.”

As of press time Nathaniel remains in the intensive care unit at National Children’s Hospital in Columbus and is listed in stable condition. Brooke said Nathaniel had improved tremendously during his 24 hours at the hospital, but they both know there is a long road ahead.

“We are still waiting on test results to see the best course of action to take from here,” Brooke said. “He can talk and he is regaining his motor skills. He has full function of his brain.”

The care Nathaniel is receiving at Nationwide Children’s is paralleled with the support from the community, Brooke said, which so far has been integral to beginning the healing process.

“This is too much for one person to handle,” Brooke said as she began to sob. “I am overwhelmed with the amount of love and support we have gotten from everyone in the community, the church’s, the schools. This is something no one ever expects to happen and we are blessed to have our small town, our friends and our family supporting us.”

Now, Brooke said, she, Nathaniel, and his sisters Natalie, 11, and Natasha, 9, begin the long road to recovery. Doctors will first treat the stroke, Brooke said, and at some point Nathaniel will undergo a spinal fusion surgery for the fractured vertebrae.

“We are blessed with the amazing, high-quality treatment he is receiving,” Brooke said. “But what’s just as amazing is the prayers, the phone calls and the visits we have gotten since we have been here.”

Brooke said anyone who knows Nathaniel is aware of his willingness to forge ahead.

“He’s young, he’s strong and he’s determined,” Brooke said. “If you know Nathaniel, you know he’s going to be OK.”