Career-ending concussion?

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May 21, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- Last night, Shawn Michaels suffered a severe concussion at the hands of Randy Orton during their match at Judgment Day. WWE's Dr. Ferdinand Rios told WWE.com that HBK has been sent home for further evaluation after suffering what is his second concussion in three weeks.

As Dr. Rios explains, "a concussion occurs when the brain hits the skull. The brain floats in fluid in the skull, and when you stop moving suddenly your brain continues moving forward. When the movement is severe or caused by a blow to the head, the brain shifts and hits the skull. When it moves like that, it can tear veins and bleed in extreme cases. In general, there's a brief period of loss of consciousness."

One concussion is bad enough, but multiple concussions can seriously damage the brain.

"Someone who has repeated head injuries, we worry about damage to some of the areas of the brain," Dr. Rios explained. "Our Superstars wrestle on a regular basis, and while their CT scans may be normal, we worry about repeated concussions because we may be missing something inside the brain. In this case, we can't really determine how long Shawn will be out. Swelling is swelling, inside the brain or not, and you have to wait for that to go down to get the true extent of the injury."

Michaels has a long history of concussions, dating back over a decade. In 1995, he was assaulted in Syracuse, N.Y., and suffered a severe concussion, one that forced him to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship. One year later, a vicious kick to the head from Owen Hart concussed HBK once again, nearly costing him his opportunity to face Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XII. More recently, HBK has suffered two concussions in three weeks, the first one coming during his match with The Great Khali on May 7.

However, Shawn Michaels is a fighter with the heart of a champion. After being severely concussed against Khali, doctors told HBK not to compete against Edge on Raw. Still, in a heroic act that proves you can't keep the fighting spirit of Shawn Michaels down, HBK answered the bell … but at what cost? During the Raw match, the Rated-R Superstar focused his vicious attack on Michaels' head, and while HBK valiantly fought through that onslaught to win the match, a sadistic stomp to the head by Randy Orton after the bout couldn't have helped matters.

As Orton said in an interview with WWE.com last week, "Did I intentionally punt Michaels in the head? Yes, I did. It's not my fault that he had a concussion from his encounter with The Great Khali last week, and it certainly won't be my fault when I target his head again this Sunday at Judgment Day."

Orton did just that, gunning for his opponent's weak spot and sending HBK to a medical facility as a result. A concussion is not a "normal" injury in that the effects can linger for a long time, and in some instances after severe concussions, people are never the same again.

According to Dr. Rios, HBK will have to be out of action for an undetermined amount of time due to the concussions. Shawn Michaels has battled back from numerous injuries before, including a severe back injury that cost him four years and nearly ended his career … but this is different. The brain is perhaps the most vital part of a sports-entertainer's body, and if brain function is impaired, a Superstar could put himself into a dangerous position by stepping back into the ring.

HBK may never be 100 percent again, and speculation is rampant that this may be the straw that finally breaks the proverbial camel's back. Let's hope that the events of the past few weeks didn't kill the legend of Shawn Michaels once and for all.

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