Rare Spinal Surgery Allows MLB Player To Return In Time For Spring Training In Arizona

February 25, 2014

A Cleveland Indians first baseman has arrived in Goodyear for spring training following a spinal injury that nearly ended his career.

David Cooper, 27, had a herniated disc that was compressing his thoracic spinal cord before undergoing surgery at Barrow Neurological Institute. Dr. Curtis Dickman says surgeons had to go through Cooper’s chest cavity to repair the problem using a surgery he pioneered.

“If he had the open surgery, the amount of pain and disability that’s residual from the open surgery would likely have not allowed him to return to playing professional baseball,” Dickman said.

Dickman says the technique he used is often used by chest surgeons but is only occasionally applied for spinal problems. He says Cooper has made a complete recovery from an injury that could have crippled him for life.