The HealthPartners Medical Group at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., held a press conference Tuesday to talk about the surgery for injured Denver forward Jesse Martin.
Martin had the operation on Monday. The fractured C2 vertebra was stabilized by inserting a screw into the bone. In addition, two vertebrae were realigned. In this surgery, the vertebrae were not fused together.
Speaking at the press conference were surgeons Dr. Alex Mendez and Dr. Robert Morgan, and Terry Martin, Jesse’s father.
Doctors described the surgery as “very successful,” and on Tuesday morning, Martin walked with help for the first time since being injured Oct. 30 against North Dakota. He walked from his bed to a chair, sat down, got back up, and walked back to his bed.
Martin had the breathing tube that was inserted during surgery removed on Tuesday morning and is currently breathing on his own, beginning to swallow, talking and moving his limbs. He will be in a halo for the next 4-6 weeks.
Terry Martin added that Jesse has begun to regain his sense of humor.
“These injuries are very serious,” said Dr. Mendez. “They can cause paralysis. Some people can die. If he had been hit a little bit more, we probably wouldn’t be here. This was a violent injury.”
“This will be six months to a year of continued recovery,” added Dr. Morgan. “We will have him spend the next 7 -10 days here with our rehab folks. We want him confident with his ability to walk. We want to make sure he is swallowing okay.
“He has been down for a long time; it’s not good for people to lie in bed for a long time. We now have to get him used to being upright, get him used to walking. We have to get him solidly healed.”
When asked if Martin would be able to one day play hockey again, Dr. Morgan said it’s a wait-and-see approach at this point.
“There’s no way we’re going to know that for a year,” said Dr. Morgan. “A lot of things have to go right, but I’m not going to tell him he can’t. If he was fused, then no (he couldn’t play again). There would be a lot of things that he wouldn’t be able to do, but the possibility is there, the potential. This surgery has the most potential for him to be normal two years from now.”
Terry Martin knows there is a rough road ahead.
“Jesse has had no other wish in life but to play hockey,” he said. ”He has tried to focus on what the doctors have been telling him rather than look too far ahead.”