Some doctors, however, are not convinced of the effectiveness of the hypothermic treatment, and Dietrich emphasized that Everett's signs of recovery should be attributed to a combination of therapies rather than a single treatment. He made clear that this is an experimental therapy, and one that is not without its shortcomings.
"The window of opportunity to introduce hypothermia may be relatively short. Hypothermia and other treatments have to be initiated early after injury," said Dietrich. "Thus, unless patients get to the hospital within two to three hours, many therapies are no longer potent in terms of targeting the injury mechanisms that they are directed toward. … Also, cooling has in the past been somewhat difficult to introduce."
Despite these drawbacks, Dietrich remains enthusiastic about the further avenues of treatment to which mild cooling may open.
"What's exciting about hypothermia therapy is that it targets multiple injury mechanisms. Drugs target only specific injury cascades, and this particular drug approach may not be the best approach in complicated injuries such as the brain and spinal cord injury. Thus, the advantage of mild cooling is that injury cascades such as program cell death, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction and free radical generation are all attenuated."
Asked about Everett's future, Dietrich responded, "These cases are extremely complicated, and it will take several weeks to determine the extent of Mr. Everett's conditions and potential for recovery of function. Nevertheless, the information coming out in the popular news appears to be extremely encouraging, and we all hope and pray for his complete recovery."