The Steelers announced the surgery, which was performed Wednesday by team physicians David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon, who has long been with the team and developed the ImPACT concussion testing program that the NFL has adopted.
The team offered no further updates on the matter.
Spinal stabilization surgery is done with the intent to stabilize the spine when there is some evidence of instability there, according to ESPN injury analyst, Stephania Bell. The procedure involves the insertion of some internal fixation, using hardware, to stabilize a segment of the spine, which presumably gives a person the best opportunity to allow the neurological recovery to continue.
On Wednesday, Shazier was transported from University of Cincinnati Medical Center to a UPMC hospital in the greater Pittsburgh area. Shazier, who was injured in the first quarter of the game, spent two nights while undergoing medical tests. Shazier was strapped to a board for stabilization and carted off the field, eliciting emotion from teammates who care about their playmaker and popular locker room figure.
The atmosphere in the Steelers’ locker room has been a combination of optimism and concern, with details on Shazier’s overall progress scarce. Shazier has been in contact with select players, including safety Mike Mitchell and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Shazier’s father, Vernon, his fiancée and other family members have used social media to promote the hashtags #prayfor50 and #shalieve. Shazier himself used Twitter to thank fans for their support. “Your support is uplifting to 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 that obviously bears remembering,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.