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Roguish Lawyer
09-29-2009, 18:14
http://www.latimes.com/sports/college/usc/la-sp-stafon-johnson-usc30-2009sep30,0,475014.story

Stafon Johnson's fitness saved his life, doctor says

September 29, 2009 | 2:17 p.m.

Stafon Johnson's physique and fitness saved his life.

The USC running back was able to survive a weightlifting accident because the muscles around his neck helped him keep open a breathing passage, Dr. Gudata Hinika, trauma director at California Hospital Medical Center, said at a news conference today.

"Had that been any one of us, meaning me, I would not have survived," Hinika said. "His neck was so solid and so muscular, that actually helped maintain his airway."

Johnson was injured Monday during a weightlifting session. He was performing a "bench press" lift with what doctors were told was 275 pounds when the bar apparently slipped from his hand and landed on his throat. Initially spitting blood from his nose and mouth, he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where he underwent more then seven hours of surgery.

Hinika said Johnson first had an emergency tracheotomy to help him breath. Reconstructive procedures then began, with four surgeons working on him.

"These are the type of injuries, usually it happens in the old days when people did not wear a seat belt," Hinika said. "You get in an accident and you're thrown through a windshield."

The doctor said that, along with Johnson's fitness, other attributes from being an elite athlete helped him through the process. "The discipline one learns from being athletic also really helped him to calm down and just do what he needed to do," Hinika said. "He took instruction very well. All those in combination . . . contributed to his outcome."

Johnson is expected to make a full recovery. Though Hinika said USC's second-leading rusher and top touchdown producer could not play again this season, he added that Johnson's football playing days were not over.

"We definitely are working very hard to get him better, for him and for the rest of his fans," Hinika said. "So we expect him to be on the football field at some time."

Johnson was communicating nonverbally with family members and friends today while being weaned from a ventilator, the doctor said, adding, "His spirit is very good."

The Dorsey High graduate is being fed through a tube in his stomach but could resume eating normally in only a few days. Hinika said Johnson would probably remain hospitalized for at least a week and there was no timetable for his recovery or release. He said the reconstruction could require revisions in the future, and that hospital staff were monitoring the running back for infections and other complications.

During a morning conference call with media covering Pacific 10 Conference football, USC Coach Pete Carroll said Johnson's teammates were still in shock.

"It's kind of disbelief that something could happen like that," he said. "We'll be dealing with this all week and past that."

The incident was also a cautionary tale for other football programs.

"Kids are pushing themselves to the limit in the weight room to get better, so you always have to be concerned," Arizona Coach Mike Stoops told reporters on the Pac-10 conference call. "You can injure yourself very severely in there."

At Washington, Coach Steve Sarksian, a former USC offensive coordinator who knows Johnson well, said the accident served as a reminder that, "You need to use proper technique and you need to have spotters and all the things that go into weightlifting."

USC officials said an assistant strength and conditioning coach was working with Johnson as a "spotter" when the accident happened, but he was unable to stop the bar from injuring the player.

Johnson has five rushing touchdowns and was averaging nearly five yards a carry for No. 7-ranked USC, which plays No. 24 Cal in a Pac-10 game Saturday.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Times Staff Writers David Wharton and Ben Bolch contributed to this report.

swatsurgeon
09-30-2009, 23:14
His doctor needs to review his anatomy books...there are no major muscles that can be developed enough to protect the larynx and trachea from this type of injury...just look up on Google the anatomy of the anterior neck...no way, no how. I buy most of the rest of the story but not that....i enjoy journalistic sensationalism!!

ss