Major League Baseball player David Cooper makes remarkable recovery thanks to Phoenix surgeon

PHOENIX - David Cooper made what appeared to be a typical slide into 1st base, but he stood up with a sharp pain.

"When I first dove into the bag and had the injury, I couldn't twist, I was having trouble breathing, just didn't feel right," said Cooper.

The 26-year-old ended up walking off the field in the 2012 game while playing for the Blue Jays.

He later learned the simple slide, may have led to a career ending injury.

Cooper said he originally thought he pulled a muscle, but it was worse.

"David's situation was very unique," said Doctor Curtis Dickman, a surgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute.

An MRI revealed Cooper had a herniated disc that was compressing and deforming his spinal cord.

Typically, herniated discs occur in the lower spine or neck according to Dickman. Cooper's was located in the thoracic region, right in his chest cavity.

"That's rare," said Dickman. "Only about two percent are located there."

Dickman says he pioneered a surgical procedure that would repair injuries like Cooper's that aren't invasive.

"Typically, many doctors would like to create a very large incision across the entire side of a patient's body, but not me," said Dickman. "I designed my procedure and the tools to make it better for the patients."

Dickman pointed to Cooper's scars which included four small marks on the side of his body.

Dickman said he removed the problem area, filled a portion of that area with a piece of Cooper's rib bone and fused it all together with a special device created by Dickman.

Cooper is in the Valley working out with the Cleveland Indians despite being told he may never walk, let alone play again.

"It's amazing, I feel great," said Cooper while standing next to the doctor. "I feel just as I did prior to the injury."

"This is available for anyone, the entire public and he (Cooper) is 100% pain free," said Dickman.

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