Rare Disease Report

From Rare Disease to NFL Combine UNC Defensive Player Nazair Jones

MARCH 01, 2017
Andrew Black
The 2017 NFL Combine begins this weekend in Indianapolis. An invite to the combine allows college players to workout and participate in skills drills in front of NFL coaches and team scouts. 
 
This day is a dream for many college football athletes, but for University of North Carolina’s defensive lineman Nazair Jones, this dream once seemed like a longshot after nearly being paralyzed from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in high school.

Symptoms appeared suddenly

It happened after one of the most important moments of his high school football career, a state playoff game. His team lost, but Nazair came out of the game without injury. When he woke up the next morning, he had lost the ability to move his legs.
 
An ambulance ride to the hospital led to a series of tests without answers. And after several pain medication shots, Nazair went home but his pain continued for weeks.
 
For a while Nazair had to alternate between using crutches, a walker and a wheelchair to get around and started losing weight rapidly. He saw other doctors, specialist, but never received an answer.

Temporarily paralyzed

His condition eventually lead to him not being able to walk at all. His legs and feet swelled , and were so sensitive that the slightest touch produced unspeakable pain.
 
Eventually, he was given a diagnosis – complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic disease that affects the nervous system.
 
Once the diagnosis was made, Nazair moved into the nearby Ronald McDonald House to begin his extensive rehab.
 
He had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for two months, then continued his therapy back home. When he returned to school, Jones still needed help walking.

Back on track

His rehab allowed Nazair to be begin walking normally again in the spring time of the year, and rejoined the travel basketball team for a tournament that summer.
 
But college football was still his desired goal. 
 
He went to University of North Carolina’s summer camp to show he was still the same athlete, but his condition affected him. He got dehydrated and overheated easily and needed help from the training staff.
 
Despite his out of shape appearance, Nazair was very fortunate. North Carolina offered him a scholarship that day.

Managing his condition

 In 2013, during his freshman season at North Carolina, he began taking weekly shots of Enbrel, used to treat inflammatory conditions. He still takes those shots and meets with a rheumatologist to help manage the disease.
 
NFL combine
 Nazair is gearing up for the 2017 NFL Combine in hopes to get drafted by an NFL team. He has fought for this opportunity since being diagnosed with CRPS in high school, and will make the most out of it. 

About complex region plain syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition most often affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet), usually after an injury or trauma to that limb.  CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems.  The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.  CRPS is characterized by prolonged or excessive pain and mild or dramatic changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the affected area.
 


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