09/02/2009 12:00AM

Straight's spinal injury confirmed


Magnetic resonance imaging tests have confirmed head and spinal injuries to Michael Straight, and Straight remains paralyzed from the waist down, his twin brother, Matthew, said in a statement released by Arlington Park late Wednesday afternoon.

Straight was badly hurt when his mount went down in the last race on Aug. 26 at Arlington Park. Straight was taken to Lutheran General Hospital, where spinal surgery was performed. He required another surgery Wednesday morning, Matthew Straight said in the release, to "remove a little air buildup in his lungs." Straight is breathing with help from a ventilator.

Initially, Straight was feared to have suffered full paralysis, but he apparently has regained feeling in the upper part of his body. Head and spinal injuries are difficult to assess until swelling recedes, but Matthew Straight said doctors expected Straight's head injury to "heal on its own in time."

Straight remains in the initial stages of what figures to be a protracted recovery, but has been responsive to outside stimuli.

"He is responding to commands and shakes his head 'yes' and 'no' when responding to questions, and holding up fingers when asked," said Matthew Straight.

Straight was injured when his mount, I'm No Gentleman, fell just before the quarter pole in a Polytrack race. No other horses or riders were involved in the accident, the second spill to have badly injured a rider this summer at Arlington. Rene Douglas remains paralyzed in his lower body after going down in the Arlington Matron on May 23.