USC tailback Stafon Johnson is recuperating today after surgery to repair neck injuries suffered during a bench-pressing accident on Monday. The USC senior, who scored the No. 7 Trojans’ go-ahead touchdown against Ohio State two weeks ago, was bench-pressing when the bar slipped from his right hand and landed across his neck. Fortunately, he was being spotted by a training coach who immediately came to his aid. However, he was coughing up blood and had obvious injuries to his neck. He underwent a 7 hour surgery to repair a crush injury to the neck and larynx (voice box). According to Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital Medical Center, “a man of lesser stature would have died from the injuries, but the thickness of Johnson’s neck muscles helped him to breathe and probably saved his life.”
The larynx, or voice box, lies at the top of the windpipe (trachea), just below where the back of the throat (pharynx) splits into the trachea and the esophagus (the tube between the throat and stomach). The vocal cords are two folds of smooth muscle within the larynx. Air passing from the lungs larynx causes the vocal cords to vibrate and produce sound. Fine manipulations of the pharynx, lips, tongue, and mouth cause changes in this sound to form the multifaceted sounds of speech and singing.