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Football: Player nearly paralysed by shattered spinal disc could play again
A WESSEX League footballer who was nearly paralysed by a freak accident on the pitch could return to the game within six months despite his frightening injury.
The 26-year-old suffered spinal nerve root compression after the disc – which acts as a cushion between the vertebrae in the neck – shattered following an innocuous challenge in a match against Hayling United.
As well as the trauma slamming together the bones in the neck, shards of the disc were precariously positioned around Wells’s spinal cord, causing bolts of pain to flow through the nerve endings in his arms, hands and back.
The match was abandoned with the stricken frontrunner unable to move or rest his arms on the ground with girlfriend Kayla and three of their four children and step-children among the crowd.
Following an MRI scan at Southampton General Hospital, Wells was told he would require invasive surgery to insert a prosthetic replacement and remove the debris causing danger to his spinal column.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo, Wells recalled: “I just got a little nudge in the back, my head was thrown backwards and I hit the floor.
“I don’t know if I landed awkwardly but I didn’t move again until I got to hospital.
“As soon as I landed I started to feel shooting sensations down both of my arms. They felt like electric shocks, pulse after pulse down my spine with more intense flashes down my arms.
“They went on and on. It felt like the bottom half of my arms were on fire and even if the wind blew it was excruciating.
“It felt like nails were being driven through the ends of my fingers.”
Surgeons had to cut through the front of his neck and manoeuvre Wells’s voice box to insert the replacement which was surrounded by a small metal cage to help its fusion to the spine.
After the successful operation both Wells’s neck and damaged nerve endings, currently causing restricted movement in his hands, are expected to recover after six months.
And despite his “one in a million” ordeal, Wells insisted he was thanking his lucky stars as the gravity of his close shave begins to sink in.
“I was lucky,” he added. “I feel like I’m taking the Michael a little bit because I smashed a part of my neck yet a few days later I am walking around.
“There are no visible signs other than a plaster on my neck and a couple of stiff fingers. I don’t like to think how close it was to being much, much worse.
“Without the people at Ringwood, on another pitch at another game, I probably would have been put on a stretcher and moved so they could carry on playing.
“My story could have been very different.”
It was the first time Wells had stepped up from Ringwood’s reserve side this season having previously featured for Brockenhurst’s second string and East Christchurch on Sundays.
But despite a good prognosis and the frontrunner admitting the beautiful game is a “massive part” of his family life, Wells feels there is a lot to consider before pulling on his boots again.
“I play or train almost every day and my girlfriend and children come to watch every weekend,” he added.
“I would love to play again, without a shadow of doubt, but I would want to be confident enough to play my game, my way and I have my family to think about too.
“With the regard to the effect it could have on our lives, I don’t think Kayla wants me to play again and she certainly doesn’t want me flying in like I do.
“I just don’t know at the moment, I’m feeling quite emotional just thinking about it.”
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