The condition of Hamilton High School football player Joe Jackson, who was left partially paralyzed after a collision at practice Monday, has been reclassified as critical, a spokesperson for St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center's Barrow Neurological Institute said Wednesday.
"We've better assessed the situation and it is critical," spokeswoman Camille Malkovich said.
Malkovich said Jackson's condition hasn't necessarily worsened since the hospital listed the 5-foot-8, 160-pound junior wide receiver in fair condition Tuesday but instead has been reclassified. Malkovich said she could not
elaborate further because of patient confidentiality rights.
"Critical means that the vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits and that the patient may be unconscious," Malkovich said, citing the chart descriptions doctors at St. Joseph's use to classify injury.
Todd Jackson, Joe's father, said on Tuesday that Joe underwent surgery late Monday night into Tuesday morning to relieve pressure on his spinal column. He said his son suffered a break in the sixth vertebra and is unable to move from the waist down.
Jackson's teammates, meanwhile, practiced Wednesday in preparation for their 5A Division I state semifinal matchup with Westwood at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Coming out and getting on the field has been a sanctuary for us,” said coach John Wrenn, who, along with the Huskies' captains, planned to visit Jackson at the hospital Wednesday night.
Junior offensive lineman Chase Stone said Jackson's injury has been a sobering experience.
“We've always known this can happen but nobody thought it really would to anybody close,” Stone said. “We never really saw it as a true possibility. It's not reality. But now we know that it is.”
Wrenn said the team has held meetings to discuss what happened to Jackson.
“These kids found out a pretty tough lesson, that the games don't mean so much,” Wrenn said.
Junior wide receiver Chase Barth, one of Jackson's closest friends on the team, said that focusing on football has been hard since Jackson was injured, but that the team now has an added incentive to beat Westwood Friday.
“The team wants to win the state championship for Joe,” Barth said.