Darwin Buffaloes player Tai Martin-Page has been given a favourable environment for recovery following spinal surgery at the Royal Perth Hospital on Sunday night.
The operation was performed by the renowned spinal surgeon, Dr Edward Baddour and has taken pressure off his spinal cord and also realigned it.
Dr Baddour provided a further update on the extent of Tai’s injuries this afternoon;
“Tai has dislocated his cervical spine in between the sixth and seventh vertebrae and has experienced a dislocation in both joints supporting the vertebrae.
“The injury resulted from the action of hyper-flexing and twisting his neck, and he would have felt the impact of the injury immediately whereby he could not move his legs.
“Currently, he cannot walk and has no voluntary movement in his legs. He has limited movement in his arms, whereby he cannot move his hands, but has some movement in his shoulders and elbows.
“It is a serious injury, and it cannot be reliably predicted at the moment what the extent of his injuries will be in six to 12 months’ time.
“It can be said with confidence though, that he has a long road ahead and is facing up to six-months rehabilitation before being released from hospital.
“It cannot be determined at the moment whether he will walk again as he’s currently experiencing spinal shock, whereby in the first 72-hours after injury, all voluntary movement is lost, but some spinal cord function may return.
“His rehabilitation will be very intensive, and he will receive daily treatment by multiple allied health specialists including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, registered nurses and medical staff,” Dr Baddour said.
He went on to emphasise that “there is always hope” and Tai will need ongoing support from his mates for the physical and mental challenge that he faces.
Dr Baddour is the same surgeon who operated on East Perth footballer Beau Chatley, who suffered significant damage to his neck and spinal cord in a WAFL match in 2016.
Chatley was temporarily a quadriplegic, but walked out of hospital just before Christmas that year, five months after sustaining his injuries.
"I think there is some hope. There is no value in losing hope at this stage," Dr Baddour said.
"Beau Chatley is now walking after a very similar injury. Certainly, Tai needs to maintain a good mental strength for the challenges he has ahead of him," he said.
Bridgit Martin, Tai’s mum, has released the following statement;
“On behalf of Tai, his brothers Jay and Shae, and our wider family I’d like to express our immense gratitude at the outpouring of love, support and care everyone has given us. From Darwin to our hometowns of Wirrabara, Laura and beyond, we have been truly touched by the way the community has embraced us.
What has happened while Tai was doing what he loves - playing footy, is a mother’s nightmare but the hurt has been made far easier thanks to the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club, NT Thunder, AFL NT, the dedicated hospital staff plus Tai’s many friends and junior footy club.
Following surgery in Perth last night I am pleased to report that he is in good spirits, joking with his brother and showing the usual signs of hunger I am used to.
We will now await the doctor’s instruction before making any plans for the future.
Again, thank you for all your thoughts and wishes.”
The Darwin Buffaloes Football Club has reiterated the immediate impact that Tai has had in the short time he has been in the Top End and said if anyone can get through extensive rehab, Tai can.
“I spoke to Tai’s mum yesterday and assured her they have the love and support of the entire Darwin Buffaloes Football Club and she was very grateful for all they have received so far.
With thanks to AFLNT, we have been able to ensure Tai’s mum and two brothers are by his side while he recovers from surgery in Perth. We look forward to one day soon having them all again at the Club,” Paterson said.
Darwin Buffaloes Senior Coach Matt Campbell has said that Martin-Page is receiving all the messages sent by his teammates and was sure Tai is being his positive-self.
“I have been in contact with Tai through his family and have been assured that he is very grateful for all the messages, calls and well wishes he has been getting.
We are all hurting after what happened on Saturday, but if we can take a bit of Tai with us, then I will be hoping it is his overwhelming positivity and his eagerness to always have a go.
I have no doubt that will never change about him, and he will meet any challenges to come head on and smash them,” Campbell said.
Darwin Buffaloes co-captain Cameron Stokes said Tai was a brother to the players and his absence would be deeply felt.
“Tai has been a big part of the positive culture shift that we have seen at the Club this season, and it is the guys and girls like him that we want at the Buffs.
“We send him all our love and best wishes and can’t wait till we see our brother again,” Stokes said.