NSHF Founder Comments on Jack Eichel’s Neck Surgery


NSHF Cofounder and Medical & Scientific Board Chairman, Thomas Schuler, MD, shares his surgeon insights with The Athletic.


In late 2021, NHL Hockey player, Jack Eichel, joined the Las Vegas Golden Knights, leaving behind the Buffalo Sabres. This trade came after a controversial medical dispute between Eichel and the Sabres over the type of spine surgery he would receive for a neck injury–a herniated disc. The neck injury occurred in March of 2021. Eichel has confirmed that he will be moving forward with the cervical (neck) artificial disc replacement.

National Spine Health Foundation Founder and Chairman of the Medical & Scientific Board, Dr. Thomas Schuler, spoke with The Athletic about artificial disc replacement surgery. He brings 30 years as a spine surgeon and 22 years with Washington’s NFL team to the conversation about surgical options. Schuler acknowledges some of the risk that comes artificial discs for players of impact sports.

“When you have impact sports, the concern is, ‘Will the artificial disc get shot into the spinal cord, which would cause paralysis,’ and the answer is we don’t know,” Schuler said. “We don’t have experience with high-level impact athletes having it. That’s what makes doctors scared to be one of the first to do this.”

Despite acknowledging the risks, Schuler is generally supportive of the procedure–particularly related to the brief recovery Eichel should experience post-operation.

“He should be up walking right away,” Schuler said. “There’s almost no downtime. In fact, you want the individual walking and being active.”

Read the full article with all of Schuler’s commentary here in an article that was published by The Athletic on November 4, 2021.