PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery after suffering a serious back injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
The Steelers announced the surgery, performed Wednesday by doctors David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon, who has been with the team for a long time and has developed the IMPACT concussion test program that the NFL has adopted.
The team did not offer further updates on the matter.
Spinal stabilization surgery is performed with the intention of stabilizing the spine. There is some evidence of instability there, according to ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell. The procedure involves the insertion of an internal fixation, using hardware, to stabilize a segment of the spine, which presumably gives a person the best chance to allow neurological recovery to continue.
On Wednesday, Shazier was transported from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center to a UPMC hospital in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Shazier, who was injured in the first quarter of the game, spent two nights while undergoing medical tests. Shazier was tied to a board to stabilize and taken off the field, causing the excitement of his teammates who care about their game maker and the popular costume figure.
The atmosphere in the Steelers' locker room has been a combination of optimism and concern, details about Shazier's overall progress are sparse. Shazier has been in contact with select players, including Mike Mitchell and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Shazier's father, Vernon, his fiancee and other family members have used social media to promote the hashtags # prayfor50 and #shalieve. Shazier himself used Twitter to thank the fans for their support. "Your support is uplifting for me and my family," he said.
The injury has affected the NFL beyond Pittsburgh. The Baltimore Ravens, this week's opponent, held a team prayer for the fourth-year linebacker.
"This is real life, that's something he obviously remembers," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.