Doctor: 3-4 month recovery for ex-President Bush's injury

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George H.W. Bush Fractures Neck in Fall at Home


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The fractured neck bone suffered by former President George H.W. Bush when he fell at his summer home will be allowed to heal on its own, a recovery that could take three to four months, officials said.

Bush, at 91 the oldest living former president, did not suffer any neurological impairment when he took a spill at his home in Kennebunkport on Wednesday. He remained hospitalized in fair condition on Thursday.

Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said the 41st president never lost consciousness and was being fitted with a brace to immobilize his neck. He fractured his C2 vertebra, the second one below the skull, but it didn't impinge on his spine and didn't lead to any neurological deficits, McGrath said.

Bush is being treated at Maine Medical Center, the state's largest medical facility, where a children's hospital is named for his wife. His family declined to say how he fell.

Just last year, George H.W. Bush parachuted for his birthday:

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Doctor: 3-4 month recovery for ex-President Bush's injury
Former President George H.W. Bush, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, prepare to land on the lawn at St. Anne's Episcopal Church while celebrating Bush's 90th birthday in Kennebunkport, Maine, Thursday, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former President George H.W. Bush, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, float to the ground during a tandem parachute jump near Bush's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Bush made the jump, his eighth, in celebration of his 90th birthday. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former President George H.W. Bush, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, float to the ground during a tandem parachute jump near Bush's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Bush made the jump, his eighth, in celebration of his 90th birthday. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former President George H.W. Bush, left, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, float to the ground during a tandem parachute jump near Bush's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Bush made the jump, his eighth, in celebration of his 90th birthday. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former President George H.W. Bush, left, strapped to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, land on the lawn at St. Anne's Episcopal Church after making a tandem parachute jump near Bush's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Bush made the jump, his eighth, in celebration of his 90th birthday. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former President George H. W. Bush rides tandem with Sgt. Michael Elliott of the Army Golden Knights parachute team as he celebrates his 85th birthday with a parachute jump, Friday, June 12, 2009, over Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP Photo/Army Golden Knights, SSG Joe Abeln)
Former President George H. W. Bush rides tandem with Army Sgt. Michael Elliott of the Army Golden Knights parachute team as he celebrates his 85th birthday with a parachute jump, Friday, June 12, 2009, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former President George Bush, lower center, parachutes in a tandem jump with Sgt. Bryan Schnell, center, a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Sunday, June 13, 2004 over Bush's presidential library in College Station, Texas. The jump was part of his 80th birthday celebration. (AP Photos/ US Army, Golden Knights)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Former President George H.W. Bush is shown during his free fall with U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team member, Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, as he made his entrance to his presidential museum during a rededication ceremony in College Station, Texas, on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Mcdaniel)
Former President George H.W. Bush, lower center, waves as he parachutes in a tandem jump with Sgt. Bryan Schnell, a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Sunday, June 13, 2004, over Texas. The jump was part of his 80th birthday celebration. Others are unidentified. (AP Photos/U.S. Army Golden Knights)
Former President George Bush parachutes down to his landing spot near his presidential library and museum Wednesday, June 9, 1999, in College Station, Texas. Bush jumped as part of a celebration for his 75th birthday. He turns 75 Saturday, June 12. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Former President George Bush heads towards the ground while making a parachute jump over the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground outside of Yuma, Ariz., Tuesday, March 25, 1997. Bush joined members of the U.S. Golden Knight precision parachute team. (AP Photo/Mike Nelson, Pool)
Former President George Bush prepares to land as members of his jump team get ready to assist Tuesday, March 25, 1997, at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground outside Yuma, Ariz. Bush made a parachute jump from 12,500 feet with members of the U.S. Golden Knights parachute team. (AP Photo/Mike Nelson, Pool)
FILE--George Bush is shown in an undated U.S. Navy handout containing a photograph of the former president from his Navy service in 1942. Half a century after he bailed out of a World War II bomber, Bush fulfilled a promise to himself by strapping on a parachute and making a recreational jump from a civilian plane 12,500 feet over the Army Yuma Proving Ground Tuesday, March 25, 1997. Bush made the promise that he would someday skydive just for fun in 1944 as he bailed out of a bullet-torn torpedo bomber over the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)
Former President George Bush heads towards the ground while making a parachute jump over the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground outside of Yuma, Ariz., Tuesday, March 25, 1997. Bush joined members of the U.S. Golden Knight precision parachute team. (AP Photo/Mike Nelson, Pool)
Former President George Bush gets a hug from his wife Barbara after he made a successful parachute jump at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground outside of Yuma, Ariz., Tuesday, March 25, 1997. Bush, using a civilian sport parachute, descended from 12,500 feet with members of the U.S. Army Golden Knight parachute team. (AP Photo/Mike Nelson, Pool)
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Dr. William D'Angelo, a neurosurgeon who is treating Bush, said the former president was lucky the fracture wasn't more serious.

"He's in great spirits," D'Angelo said outside the hospital. "He's with family. As his wife said, it takes a lot more than this to knock his spirits down. He was shot down over the Pacific in World War II. She said this is a small bump in the road."

A hospital spokesman said it was premature to speculate about when Bush will be released, but McGrath suggested it won't be a lengthy stay.

D'Angelo said the injury is common among seniors who fall and can be painful. He said a patient in his 90s would generally take three or four months to heal.

"It's a significant injury, but right now the president is in excellent shape, and we anticipate he'll make a full recovery," the doctor said.

He said Bush was "doing great" and "he's up and talking and out of bed."

A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama called Bush on Thursday morning to wish him a speedy recovery.

Bush, who has a form of Parkinson's disease and uses a motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility, has suffered other recent health setbacks. He was hospitalized in Houston in December for about a week for shortness of breath. He spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care at the same Houston hospital for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.

The Republican served two terms as Ronald Reagan's vice president before being elected president in 1988. He served one term, highlighted by the success of the 1991 Gulf War in Kuwait, and then lost to Democrat Bill Clinton amid voters' concerns about the economy.

Bush was a naval aviator in World War II, and his torpedo plane was shot down over the Pacific. He also served as ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and CIA director.

He is the father of Republican former President George W. Bush. Another Bush son, Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is running for president in 2016.

During the winter, Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, live in Houston.

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