Catastrophic Injuries Soar on Football in 2011
Review of Survivor Cases Online Confirms Unusually High Rate
By Matt Chaney
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2011
Amid the second autumn of America’s neo-campaign for Safer Football, the extreme sport is lethal as ever in 2011 and on pace for its worst year in decades, confirms a review of casualty reports online.
As usual, teenagers constitute the large majority of football victims, among at least 60 cases of catastrophic injuries striking players since February—fatalities and survivors of subdural hematoma, stroke, paralysis, cardiac arrest and more emergencies—documented by this writer through search of Google banks under numerous Boolean word commands.
Comparing football numbers of a year ago, 41 catastrophic cases were logged for all of 2010 by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, a think tank funded by football organizations that compiles data recognized as authoritative.
And there’s more mayhem online this year, including at least 5 survivor cases of heatstroke or heat-related collapse that may meet criteria for inclusion in the National Center survey, results to be posted online next spring by the University of North Carolina.
Heatstroke fatalities are included in annual catastrophic data, for example, while worst-scenario survivors can sustain brain damage if body cooling does not commence soon enough.
See my annotated list of survivor cases below.
Reports of at least 125 emergency cases in football this year are available online, with the large majority involving ambulance or life-flight transport.
My numbers are likely conservative, too, given limitations of this review including the following: a) online databases do not include a significant portion of daily print and broadcast news; b) magazines and newspapers increasingly charge subscription rates for online access, especially small-market or rural publications; c) many online news pages are taken down after short posting; d) Google does not access all daily news online; e) and an unknown amount of football survivor cases are publicized in scant detail or not at all [although burgeoning social media are closing much of the blackout, with blasts of texts, Tweets and Facebook posts, for example, as emergencies occur at football sites].
Even football fatalities slip by reviewers employing electronic search, like one collision death in 2010, youth-league player Quadaar White, 15, whose case remains omitted from the National Center report online.
I focus here on survivor players of grave football injuries in 2011, based on my list of 61 cases online already, with 11 weeks remaining in the calendar year.
My documented cases include about 45 that appear strong for meeting catastrophic criteria of the National Center, pending follow-up and qualification by lead researcher Dr. Robert Cantu, the Boston neurosurgeon and NFL expert on brain trauma.
That 45 catastrophic number would almost double Cantu’s survivor tally of a year ago.
Cantu and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell team to champion “safer football”—an old term first employed for so-called game reform a century ago—through rule changes, penalty enforcement, “concussion testing,” statutory law and “behavior modification” of players that allegedly teaches “proper” hitting without head contact.
In 2010, first year of the modern campaign, Dr. Cantu logged 24 survivors of catastrophic injuries in football, including 13 who made so-called complete recoveries. His 2009 report lists 42 survivors, while he gathered 57 such cases in 2008, the high mark for the National Center’s posted reports since 1984.
In coming days I’ll solicit injury researchers and other experts for their responses to my review, including Dr. Cantu.
For additional notes on the list below, foremost and repeating, it does not include football fatalities in 2011, like 16-year-old Ridge Barden, lineman for Phoenix High School in New York, killed on Oct. 14 by subdural hematoma of "blunt force" trauma incurred that Friday night in a game upstate. The teen is American football's third collision death confirmed by autopsy this year [thus far I have found reports of 16 deaths of players, mostly teenagers but including a 7-year-old, to likely qualify for Dr. Cantu’s confirmation as football-related fatalities, along with an additional 3 or 4 meriting his consideration].
For football survivor cases, The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research classifies such casualty as either non-fatal, involving “permanent severe” functional disability, or serious, with no permanent functional disability.
Beyond the list below, search online for additional cases of serious football injury that could qualify as catastrophic in 2011, such as spinal bruising and transient paralysis and head injuries causing comatose states longer than concussion.
And check out the National Center’s website, http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/, for information and context—if not injury qualifications that altogether jibe—among reports on decades of the catastrophic events ever-looming, for tackle football and more contact sport of modern America.
Survivors of Catastrophic or Grave Injury in American Football, Cases 2011
From reports retrieved in Google Search through October 15, 2011
By Matt Chaney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Report of Comatose Youth Player, Age 5, American Football 2011
Sept. 29, circa: Unnamed “Tiny Mite” player, 5-years-old, Hawaii, reportedly fell comatose at a hospital following a head injury. Child was injured while participating in division of Oahu Pop Warner football for ages 5, 6 and 7, Brianne Randle reports for KHON-TV. Oahu doctor Josh Green said, “Five might be a little young. I’m concerned about it.”
Online Reports of Brain Hemorrhage and Surgery, American Football 2011
March 19: Logan Weber, 21, Iowa, offensive guard for Coe College, experienced severe headaches while stretching for weightlifting. Weber was hospitalized within 24 hours for brain bleeding linked to “arteriovenous malformation,” or AVM, a congenital condition. Surgery was performed to insert a shunt and Weber was hospitalized for 20 days. He has recovered but no longer plays football, serving instead as student coach for the Coe team. Source: Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Aug. 5: Brennan Barber, 17, South Carolina, defensive lineman for Mid-Carolina High School, was injured by a reported “routine” helmet hit during a scrimmage and collapsed minutes later. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. Barber began walking three days later and was released from the hospital within a week. He is undergoing therapy and is expected to make strong recovery. Source: The State.
Sept. 2: Tucker Montgomery, 17, Tennessee, receiver/linebacker for Tri-Cities Christian School, injured in helmet-to-helmet contact running the football during a 6-man game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. On Oct. 3, a hospital spokesman reported Montgomery remained comatose with a “very, very long road to recovery.” Sources: TriCities.com, Johnson City Press.
Sept. 10: Dominic Morris, 21, Nebraska, running back for Chadron State College, injured by reported “glancing” contact from an opponent’s facemask during a game. Surgery was performed on brain bleeding that had caused a blood clot. “Following the operation… Morris was alert and showed no signs of any ill effects from the injury,” states a CSC release. Morris was discharged from hospital on Sept. 12 for recovery at home in California. Sources: Chadron State College, Omaha World.
Sept. 16: Robby Mounce, 17, Texas, running back/receiver for Community Christian School, suffered brain bleeding during a 6-man game and collapsed. Surgery was performed. Mounce, an honors student, remains under critical care while undergoing therapy in a rehabilitation facility. Progress is slow and a long recovery is expected. Sources: KDFW-TV, Mineral Wells Index, and Janet Mounce on CaringBridges.com.
Sept. 16: Zeth Shouse, 17, Nevada, tight end/defensive end for Elko High School, suffered brain bleeding during a game and collapsed. Multiple surgeries were performed. Shouse, an honors student, remained hospitalized in a coma on Oct. 8. Source: Reno Gazette-Journal.
Sept. 16: Adrian Padilla, 17, California, safety for Oxnard High School, collapsed following head contact during a game. Surgery was performed for brain swelling of a reported severe concussion. Padilla was released from hospital on Oct. 4 and attended the Oxnard football game days later; he walked onto the field for the opening coin flip wearing street clothes and protective helmet. Padilla told media he suffered a concussion in football two weeks prior to the Sept. 16 injury. The teen, with more surgery pending, is continuing schoolwork at home for remainder of the semester. Sources: Ventura County Star, Concussion Inc. blog, and ESPN.com.
Sept. 16: Adam Ingle, 17, Kansas, quarterback/linebacker for Valley Center High School, was injured in helmet-to-helmet contact during a game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. Family members say Ingle likely was concussed three days before game injury, during football practice, but the player did not inform anyone of his headaches, reports blogger Irvin Muchnick. Ingle is progressing well at home and attending school events, but lengthy recovery is expected. Sources: Concussion Inc. blog, Wichita Eagle, and KSN.com.
Sept. 30: Bobby Clark, 17, Idaho, lineman/linebacker for Priest River Lamanna High School, collapsed while leaving the field during a game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. District superintendent Mike McGuire said Clark might have mentioned headaches in the week leading to his injury, unbeknownst to coaches and school officials. At least 9 players on the team have been diagnosed with concussion this season, among 45 players in the small school, officials say. A local TV station reports Clark was among 3 concussion cases diagnosed on the team the night he was airlifted for emergency surgery. The teen remains hospitalized in critical care but a ventilator was removed and he is alert and improving, undergoing physical therapy, his mother reports online. A long recovery is expected. Sources: Julie Clark on CaringBridge.org, WASWX-TV, Spokane Spokesman-Review, and Bonner County Daily Bee.
Sept. 30: Shelton Dvorak, 17, Nebraska, fullback/linebacker for Pierce High School, collapsed during a game. Surgery was performed for brain bleeding. Dvorak was released from ICU a week later and entered a rehabilitation center, where he’s progressing markedly, including solo walking, exercising—such as free lunges, squats—eating and conversing with visitors. But swelling remains along with complications like headaches, and Dvorak faces more surgery. Sources: Dvorak Family on CaringBridges.org, Lincoln Journal Star and Norfork Daily News.
Sept. 30: Dillon Lackhan, teenager, Arizona, senior lineman/linebacker for Valley Christian High School, suffered brain bleeding of a headshot during a game. Surgery was performed and Lackhan was conscious within a few days, eating and conversing. “Dillon shows positive signs for recovery, but a long-term prognosis is not clear,” stated school athletic director Marlin Broek, in an Oct. 6 email to sportswriter Richard Obert. Sources: AZCentral.com, MyFoxPhoenix.com and East Valley Tribune.
Oct. 13: Unnamed teenager, California, sophomore player for Los Angeles High School, collapsed during a junior varsity game. Surgery was performed for a brain hemorrhage and the teen remained hospitalized in critical condition the following day, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Online Reports of Vessel Rupture and Stroke in American Football 2011
Sept. 6: Connor Laudenslager, teenager, Pennsylvania, senior offensive/defensive tackle for Line Mountain High School, was stricken of a blood clot at beginning of indoor practice, causing stroke. Laundenslager, 6-foot, 270 pounds, was hospitalized for emergency brain surgery then made “remarkable progress,” said coach Mike Carson. A Sept. 30 report states Laudenslager could be cleared to resume football this season. Sources: NewsItem.com, TNonline.com and Pottsville Republican Herald.
Sept. 23: Dylan Mercadante, 16, Vermont, receiver/defensive back for Montpelier High School, suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his neck during the second half of a game, causing strokes. The injury possibly stemmed from contact on his team’s first kickoff of the game. Coach John Murphy said Mercadante passed a “concussion test” administered by athletic trainer Jennifer Lahr before his collapse and she still attempted to sideline the player; Lahr said the player reentered the game against her command, reports sportswriter Anna Grearson. Mercadante spent a week in ICU then was moved to a rehabilitation facility, where he remains. Long recovery is expected. Source: Barre-Montpelier Times Argus.
Online Reports of Brain Bleed or Swell, No Surgery, American Football 2011
Feb. 14: Neiron Ball, 19, linebacker for the University of Florida, experienced headaches following a workout and was hospitalized the following day for a burst blood vessel of the brain linked to a congenital malformation of arteries known as AVM. Ball was released from ICU after five days and in March began “radial” treatment described as a non-intrusive procedure, similar to radiation for cancer. Ball is not playing football this season. A relative says Ball is healthy but his football future remains uncertain. Sources: Orlando Sentinel and YardBarker.com.
Aug. 19: Alan Mohika, 17, Hawaii, quarterback for Damien Memorial High School, was injured by contact during a game, rose and walked off, then fell into seizure. Mohika suffered brain bleeding and was hospitalized in ICU for a reported severe concussion. No surgery was necessary and the teen was discharged from hospital after five days. Mohika, who returned to school in mid-September, reportedly sustained a concussion last year and isn’t playing football this season. He hopes to return to sports. Sources: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, HawaiiNewsNow.com and KITV.com.
Sept. 9: Matt Ringer, 15, California, running back for Central Catholic High School, suffered an apparent concussion during a tackle. Later he was hospitalized for a detected brain bleed, although fully conscious. No surgery was necessary and Ringer was released from hospital within 48 hours. He is not playing football this season, but apparently recovery is strong thus far. Source: Modesto Bee.
Oct. 7: Jadon Adams, 16, Kansas, running back for Beloit High School, collapsed during a game and was hospitalized for brain swelling. Doctors sedated Adams as treatment and discontinued the drugs as swelling subsided within 24 hours, determining that no surgery was necessary. The teen has not fully regained consciousness while making inconsistent responses to verbal and physical stimulation, but family members see positive signs in his eye openings and body movements. And he was moved from ICU into his own room a week after injury. Doctors are unsure why Adams remains mostly unresponsive, but they believe his brain swell wasn’t caused by a football collision, reports journalist Gary Demuth. “They felt a previous problem, perhaps with the addition of the football game, could have caused this health issue to surface,” said Steph Barret, a nurse and friend of the player’s family. Several specialists are examining Adams. “Based on his CAT scan, he should be sitting up and talking,” Barrett said. Sources: Salina Journal and Steph Barrett on CarePages.com.
Online Reports of Skull Fracture, American Football 2011
April 2: Lamont Baldwin, 17, Washington, D.C., touted receiver for Carroll High School, suffered a fractured skull and other injuries in a four-player collision during private camp without pads and helmets in Virginia. Baldwin was hospitalized in ICU for two days and could not return to school for the remaining semester, facing months of recovery. When injured, Baldwin was a top college prospect reportedly being recruited by several major programs. Baldwin is not playing football presently, and available information is limited. Doctors were optimistic for Baldwin’s return to football as of last report in April: Washington Post and NBCWashington.com.
Online Reports of Spinal Fracture With Surgery, American Football 2011
May 7: Rob Marrero, 31, Pennsylvania, semi-pro player for the Mountain Top Reapers, suffered a broken neck and severed spinal cord during a game. Friends reported after surgery that Marrero is paralyzed permanently from chest down. Marrero, married and a father of two, continues treatment and therapy. Source: Lehighton Times News.
May 27: Jeremy Bingham, 34, Arizona, fractured cervical and thoracic vertebrae during a game in pads and helmets between alumni of two local high schools. He was injured colliding with another player. Doctors diagnosed no paralysis in Bingham and surgery was performed to stabilize the C7 and T1 vertebrae. Bingham is married and the father of four. Sources: Eastern Arizona Courier and the Bingham Family on Blogspot.com.
Sept. 23: Corpio Dennard, 16, Alabama, receiver/running back for Saks High School, suffered a broken neck during a game while a tackler grabbed from behind, pinning his arms and sending him into ground headfirst. Dennard experienced no paralysis and walked to the sidelines, but coaches did not return him to the game. The next day his mother sent him for a doctor’s exam and Dennard was hospitalized, with X-rays showing fractures in his 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. Surgery was performed on Sept. 25, for stabilizing the spine with plate and screws. “The doctors that saw him were just amazed that he got up and walked off the field,” coach Clint Smith told reporter Joe Medley. Dennard said, “If I had gone back in the game, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I’d probably be paralyzed or even dead.” Dennard has begun 6-to-12 months rehabilitation and doctors expect he can return to sports, although probably not football. Source: Anniston Star.
Sept. 29: Luis Morales, teenager, Texas, junior player for Vega High School, suffered fracture of the C6 vertebrae while colliding with bleachers during a junior varsity game. Reports state the teen is paralyzed from waist down while hardly moving his arms. Surgery was performed in Texas, and Morales was flown to California for specialized rehabilitation on Oct. 13. Sources: Amarillo Globe-News, High Plains Observer and ConnectAmarillo.com.
Oct. 7: Porter Hancock, teenager, Utah, running back/linebacker for South Summit High School, suffered a broken neck and paralysis while making a tackle in a game. “Porter finished off the tackle. It was nothing big,” said South Summit coach Jerry Parker. “He turned his head the wrong way.” Surgery on Oct. 8 removed two discs and inserted a stabilizing plate. Hancock remained paralyzed from chest down as of news reports on Oct. 10. Prognosis is uncertain. Sources: Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, Park City Record, KSL.com.
Online Reports of Spinal Fracture, No Surgery, American Football 2011
Note: Football cases of spinal fracture often involve no displacement of vertebrae or puncture of spinal cord, resulting in no paralysis or other acute alert, and in fact unknowing victims can function normally for long periods after injury, including playing tackle football. For such injury that is diagnosed and treated, practically complete recoveries are frequent. Among severe or catastrophic injuries in tackle football, diagnosed spinal fracture without displacement qualifies among least serious types. Some injured players rehabilitate and return to full contact in the same season, even quickly, such as a few high-school players this year. For this section, available details are fewer and less precise in some cases.
June 25: Evan Gray, teenager, California, senior running back for Poway High School, fractured three vertebrae in a fall during pass-league competition. Following rest and rehab, Gray returned for Poway’s football season but is currently sidelined with a reported fractured kneecap. Sources: Damian Gonzalez on MaxPreps.com and Poway News Chieftan.
Aug. 9: Jeff Wozniak, teenager, Indiana, sophomore quarterback for Morton High School, suffered fractured vertebrae and neck bones and a bruised spinal cord in practice when “hit under his chin during a drill and driven backward,” initially leaving him paralyzed, reports sportswriter Steve Hanlon. Doctors fitted Wozniak with a steel halo head brace, requiring drilling of screws but not open surgery. In ICU he progressively regained feeling and motor function and in two weeks left the hospital for a rehabilitation facility, where he was also released after two weeks. He continues outpatient therapy and hopes to play football again. Source: NWTimes.com.
Aug. 10, circa: Mario Crawford, 21, Virginia, running back for Old Dominion University, sustained fracture of the C1 vertebrae in a preseason practice, striking his helmet on a medicine ball in a drill. Doctors could not determine a diagnosis for two weeks, until CT scan revealed the injury. Crawford expects to wear a neck brace 6-to-8 weeks and will not return to football this year, according to The Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot.
Aug. 15-20: Devin Mahina, adult, Utah, redshirt sophomore tight end for Brigham Young University, sustained a fractured vertebrae in a preseason scrimmage. Initially the injury was not diagnosed and Mahina practiced football for about 10 days, until doctors found it by CT scan on Aug. 30, sidelining him for the year. At last report, Mahina will wear a neck brace until further evaluation. Sources: Deseret Sun and Salt Lake Tribune.
Aug. 26: Dustin Newman, teenager, Alabama, junior player for Pike Liberal Arts Academy, sustained a fractured thoracic or T5 vertebrae during a kickoff. He will wear a neck brace until about November’s end. Sources: Troy Messenger and WAKA.com.
Sept. 1: Kellen Bernard, 15, Texas, running back/linebacker for Palmer High School, sustained a fractured lumbar vertebrae on a hit while returning a punt. He reportedly had temporary paralysis and at last report was expected to recover. Sources: Ennis Daily News and WFAA-TV.
Sept. 2: Jerram Rojo, 17, Texas, quarterback/linebacker for Marfa High School, was injured running the ball in a game, his heading striking ground. He walked off the field then was hospitalized, where a CT scan revealed fracture of the C6 vertebrae. As of diagnosis, Rojo would wear a neck brace for six weeks then be examined for possible surgery, Sterry Butcher reports for BigBendNow.com.
Sept. 2, circa: Sam Scholting, teenager, Missouri, junior offensive tackle for Mexico High School, suffered a broken vertebrae and was expected to be sidelined six weeks, coach Nick Hoth told The Mexico Ledger.
Sept. 9: Frank de Braga, teenager, Nevada, senior running back/safety for Fallon High School, suffered a fractured T3 vertebrae and brain concussion while making a tackle. Initially unconscious, the teen had movement before transport to hospital, where he spent the overnight under observation. De Braga was cleared to return to play two weeks later and remains in the Fallon lineup, according to The Lahontan Valley News.
Sept. 10: Brian Tyms, 22, Florida, receiver for Florida A&M University, sustained a fractured vertebrae during a game. He returned to football and played in a game on Oct. 1. Sources: Tallahassee Democrat and The Associated Press.
Sept. 11: Ron Bartell, 29, Missouri, cornerback for the St. Louis Rams, sustained fractures of the C7 vertebrae in an NFL game. He is recovering wearing a neck brace and will undergo months of rehab, hopeful of playing again, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Sept. 16: Scott Thibeault, teenager, Maine, senior running back/linebacker for Mountain Valley High School, suffered two fractured vertebrae and was expected to miss at least four weeks of play. Source: Portland Press Herald.
Sept. 18: Nick Collins, 28, Wisconsin, free safety for the Green Bay Packers, ruptured a lumbar disc during collision in an NFL game. Cervical-fusion surgery was performed and Collins faces lengthy rehabilitation. Doctors expect full recovery for normal lifestyle, but Collins hopes to resume pro football. Sources: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Channel3000.com.
Sept. 30: Deangelo Peete, 17, Michigan, linebacker for Livonia Franklin High School, fractured his C1 vertebrae in three places during a helmet-to-helmet collision in a game. He was hospitalized, a head halo brace was fitted to stabilize the injury, and within days Peete was walking. The teen will wear the halo brace for three months, according to WJBK-TV.
Sept. 30: Cody Ashcraft, teenager, Missouri, senior receiver for Scott City High School, sustained a fractured cervical vertebrae in a game, according to The Southeast Missourian.
Oct. 8: Chris Thompson, 20, Florida, running back for Florida State University, suffered fractures of the T5 and T6 vertebrae while being tackled in a game and was hospitalized overnight. Thompson is walking and wearing a neck brace for 6-to-12 weeks, then starts rehab. He hopes to play football again, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Online Reports, Survivors of Heatstroke and Related Illness, Football 2011
July 11: Jordan Hawthorne, South Carolina, sophomore lineman for Greenville High School, was stricken during morning team workout as local temperature would later reach the mid-90s and about 100-degree index. Hawthorne, listed as 5-foot-10, 200-pound defensive lineman, reportedly passed out but regained consciousness before transport by ambulance to a local hospital, where at last report he spent the overnight in ICU. Source: WPSA-TV.
Aug. 1: Ciani Davis, 17, Texas, offensive/defensive lineman for his 6-man team at Advantage Academy Charter School, collapsed of heatstroke in morning practice. Paramedics measured 108-degree body temperature for the teen, listed at 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds, and he was placed in medically induced coma for 48 hours. Davis was hospitalized for a week, mostly in ICU, and began outpatient rehabilitation. Sources: WFAA-TV and KDFW-TV.
Aug. 2: Dustin Snow, 17, Ohio, offensive tackle for Wauseon High School, collapsed during team lunch break after practice. The 6-foot-1, 285-pound teen slipped off a chair, tried to stand up, then a teammate caught his fall. Emergency response resulted in helicopter life-flight to Cleveland, where Snow was hospitalized in critical condition before he began to recover. His father, Bob Snow, said, “It was a nightmare the first 24 hours.” Dustin Snow, a 4.0 student ranked No.1 in his senior class, was discharged from hospital after a week and soon spoke with reporter Bill Bray. “I barely remember [Aug. 2] practice,” Snow told Bray, of the hours leading to his collapse, continuing: “It was severe dehydration. … The first thing I remember I was waking up in the hospital with the [ventilator] tube in my mouth. … I was really freaking out. … I had so much lactic acid in my body that they had to put a room full of fluids in my body. They had seven IV bags hooked up to me at one time. My kidney function was very close to dead as was my liver function. That started to affect all my other organs and my stomach began having problems functioning as well. I couldn’t digest food and it was really bad.” Snow will no longer play football; in addition to his heat illness, he has learned of “an extra bone growth in the back of my head,” discovered during hospitalization, which doctors warn could damage his spinal cord on impact. Sources: Wauseon Reporter and Toledo Blade.
Aug. 10: Clay Huskey, 14, Alabama, player for Buckhorn High School, collapsed of heatstroke during a water break at afternoon practice. Coaches applied ice to Huskey’s body while awaiting paramedics. The teen was hospitalized for three weeks, including 17 days in ICU, as chronicled on Facebook by a deep thread of relatives, friends and more followers. For about a week Huskey was basically comatose, wracked by high fever and body pain, then had to overcome a lung infection and surgery. Upon his hospital release at day 21, Huskey faced “a lot of physical therapy,” Denise Sisco Shockley reported online, “and he will be out of school another 4-6 weeks, but he is healing. Thank you, God, for answering our prayers!” Sources: Shockley on Facebook.com and WAFF-TV.
Sept. 2: Clay Callahan, teenager, Ohio, junior lineman for Conneaut High School, was stricken as primarily 100-degree heat and humidity sent six players to local hospitals from a game between his school and Champion High. Callahan was unconscious in critical condition, hospitalized on ventilator for an overnight before discharge after about a week. Candy Oliveira, identifying herself as a relative of Callahan on Facebook, wrote on Sept. 7: “I have been to other high school football games and have seen large ice coolers with towels soaked… . My nephew showed multiple signs of HEAT STROKE prior to his unconsciousness.” Callahan, whom his aunt described as “very lucky,” returned to the Conneaut team for the Oct. 14 game, reports sportswriter Don McCormack. Sources: Ashtabula Star Beacon, WJW-TV, Oliveira on Facebook.com, InAshtabula.com, and Conneaut Area City Schools.
Online Reports, Survivors of Cardiac Arrest, Heart Attack, Football 2011
May 19: Teddrick Lewis, 15, Louisiana, player for Breaux Bridge High School, collapsed on the sidelines during a spring football scrimmage. Coach Paul Broussard employed a portable automated external defibrillator, or AED—after having trained in a mock drill with his team and school personnel weeks earlier—to restart the heartbeat and save Lewis’ life. “Because we had a plan in place, we knew exactly what to do,” Broussard said. Lewis was hospitalized for a week and has since recovered for normal activity, but doctors advise he not return to contact sport. Sources: KATC-TV and ZOLL Medical Corporation.
Aug. 22: Unnamed teenager, Missouri, eighth-grade player for Waynesville Middle School, collapsed of cardiac arrest during afternoon practice. Local fire and ambulance personnel restored the boy’s heartbeat. “The defibrillator devices were absolutely what saved him,” said Mike McCort, of the ambulance district. As of Aug. 26, the teen was hospitalized, according to The Pulaski County Daily News.
Aug. 30: Ross Palmer, 17, Idaho, receiver/cornerback for American Falls High School, collapsed of apparent cardiac arrest while running wind sprints at practice. Two coaches began CPR while another fetched a portable defibrillator, then they correctly ignored a directive not to use the device, from responding paramedics, reports journalist Patty Henetz. “If [the stricken player] had not been shocked, no way would he have come out of that,” said cardiac surgeon Dr. Brian Crandall. Three days post-incident, surgeons implanted a self-activating stimulator in Palmer’s chest. Henetz reported “if Ross’ heart goes into ventricle fibrillation arrest—quivering instead of beating—the implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, will shock his heart back into action.” Source: Salt Lake Tribune.
Sept. 2: David Wilganowski, 17, Texas, touted lineman for Rudder High School, collapsed of cardiac arrest during a game. Rudder's certified athletic trainer, Jamie Woodell, revived the heartbeat with an AED and staff performed CPR, saving the teen. Wilganowski was hospitalized 10 days and surgery placed an ICD device in his chest. An honors student, aspiring engineer, Wilganowski is formerly a prized football recruit at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and athletic. He will not play football again, but Rice University reportedly pledges to honor its scholarship offer. Sources: KBTX-TV, KCEN-TV and Bryan-College Station Eagle.
Sept. 9: Brett Greenwood, 23, Iowa, former University of Iowa safety just released by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, suffered a reported heart attack during an individual workout at his alma mater high school in Bettendorf. Personnel of Pleasant Valley High were present and likely kept the athlete alive until paramedics arrived, media report. School athletic director Randy Treymer said, “The school nurse ran a defibrillator where our athletic trainer was working on Brett. … They kept pushing with the defibrillator and CPR. If they weren’t around, who knows what could have happened?” Doctors placed Greenwood in medically induced coma and on life support, and he was hospitalized in ICU for about two weeks. Greenwood was transferred to a specialized care facility where he remains, reportedly awake, talking and walking. Medical treatment continues and a likely lengthy recovery. Sources: Quad City Times and Daily Iowan.
Sept. 20: Alex Templeton, 13, Texas, a linebacker for Azle Junior High School, went into cardiac arrest of contact during a game. Templeton chased down an opponent near the sideline, making the tackle from behind, and the opponent’s cleat jabbed his chest. The seventh-grader stood up, looked at the grandstands and collapsed. A coach performed CPR while a nurse who was a spectator administered a portable AED owned by the school; Templeton lay still until the defibrillator restored heartbeat, rousing him. “Seeing the boy spring back to life was an emotional experience for all those involved,” Edwin Newton reported. Templeton is recovering and hopes to play football again in about two years, when doctors might grant permission, but his dad, Matt Templeton, may not: “I don’t want him to play, but we will have to make the decision later,” the father said. Azle school officials, meanwhile, have ordered 11 additional defibrillators, intending to station one for every athletic activity of the district. Sources: Azle News, WFFA-TV and DFWCBSLocal.com.
Oct. 1: Ty Egan, 8, Illinois, youth-league player in LeRoy, was sprinting open for a touchdown when he slowed and collapsed, his heart having stopped. An ambulance was on site and medical personnel were watching as spectators, and they scrambled in response. But only oxygen was administered before the grade-schooler revived, resuming normal pulse and heartbeat. An electrophysiologist later told the parents their son was in cardiac arrest and a miracle saved him, not oxygen. Doctors are restricting the boy from all sports except golf in the future, reports Randy Kindred, The Bloomington Pantagraph.
Online Reports, Survivors of Blood Clot, American Football 2011
April: Nermin Delic, 19, Kentucky, defensive lineman for the University of Kentucky, underwent emergency surgery for a blood clot. The life-threatening condition followed his operation to repair a torn groin muscle, an injury from spring football. “In the second week of April, I was walking to class and my arm was turning blue,” Delic told reporter Drew Brantley. “They told me I had a blood clot. I spent eight days in the hospital. I had some internal bleeding and a two-foot tube down my throat. It made me realize some things.” Soon after, Delic had surgery to remove a rib, and he chose to leave football and the university. In July, however, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound athlete announced he would return to UK and the football program in 2012. Sources: Dalton Daily Citizen, BleedBlueKentucky.com and Lexington Herald-Leader.
Aug. 27: Jacy Dike-Pedersen, 16, California, fullback/linebacker for California School for the Deaf, experienced difficulty breathing in a scrimmage; two days later, an arm became swollen. Doctors found blood clots in his upper body and Dike-Pedersen entered ICU for drug treatments and then surgery to remove a rib. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound honors student now takes blood-thinning medicine, and he returned to school on Sept. 19, although finished with football this year. If the blood clots clear in the future, Dike-Pedersen might return to football, reports Phil Jensen, The Oakland Tribune.
Sept. 2: Tyler Story, teenager, Texas, receiver/linebacker for Decatur High School, sustained a severe knee injury in a game; later a blood clot developed and the teen underwent emergency surgery lasting five hours. A family member reported damage to the artery and nerves, and Story stayed weeks in ICU. He was recently discharged from hospital, but surgery for the knee injury is pending. Sources: Wise County Messenger and Jeff Jones on Blogspot.com.
Oct. 8: Andrew Gonnella, 21, Maryland, 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive guard for the University of Maryland, suffered a dislocated knee in a game that included compound bone fracture, leading to surgery that night. Three days later, Gonnella had a blood clot and was hospitalized. Sources: Washington Times and Baltimore Sun.
Online Reports of Organ Rupture and Damage, American Football 2011
Sept. 23: Taygen Schuelke, 17, South Dakota, running back for Newell High School, suffered a ruptured kidney during a game. He was hospitalized in ICU a few days then moved to a regular room to begin physical therapy. Schuelke was released after about a week and is home for a slow recovery. Two years ago, Schuelke fractured his C7 vertebrae in rodeo competition. Sources: Rapid City Journal and Jan Swan Wood for TSLN.com.
Sept. 23: Luke Bewley, 17, Montana, halfback/linebacker for Hellgate High School, suffered a lacerated kidney while blindsided in a reportedly “clean” but hard hit from a blocker. Bewley was hospitalized in critical condition and surgeons implanted a stint to redirect liquids away from the damaged kidney. He was discharged from hospital within a week and doctors expect a rapid recovery. Bewley aspires to play basketball in the coming season and also return to football next year, reports Jamie Kelly for The Missoulian.
Sept. 24: Zach Sheffield, 18, Kansas, cornerback for Olathe South High School, sustained a destroyed kidney from contact during a game. This case is among many of 2011 demonstrating how quickly emergency can accelerate beyond anyone’s control at the common football setting—and typically mortal danger threatens a student player. For the Sheffield catastrophic injury, Kansas City Star sportswriter Tod Palmer provides a vivid account available online… Sheffield fell on the run, pursuing a ball-carrier during a Saturday road game, and his twisting body struck the opponent’s flexed knee in impact that damaged his left kidney irreparably. Sheffield trotted off the field, short of breath he later recounted, then collapsed in apparent distress. No one could readily diagnose the problem, including trainers and coaches, and no ambulance was immediately available, so the dying player was loaded into a family automobile. His dad, Bret Sheffield, sped off for an ER five miles away through metro traffic. The father “drove like a man possessed” to make it, Palmer wrote, continuing: “He recalls weaving across a median at one point then speeding down the shoulder on I-435 west, which was backed up because of weekend construction. … Zach described the pain as excruciating, ‘probably a 9 out of 10,’ he said. Doctors could barely move him off the gurney to the CT machine, because the pain was so intolerable. … All the hospital’s medical staff could do was stop the bleeding to the burst kidney, which now felt like an inflating balloon in his abdominal cavity, and wait for his other kidney to begin working double-time.” Surgery removed the destroyed kidney and Zach Sheffield remained hospitalized on Sept. 30, slowly recovering, as Palmer’s report was posted at www.kansascity.com.
Sept. 30: Derek Wall, 13, Utah, student at Pleasant Grove Junior High School, suffered severe internal injuries from contact during intramural flag football, an after-school program on campus. The injured boy’s father, James Wall, said, “They had to do exploratory surgery on him—he’s got a 10-to-12 inch cut on his stomach now, perforated bowels, his pancreas is bruised, there’s some liquid in his lungs, they had to take out his gall bladder, his appendix. Everything was just kind of bruised up.” A week following the incident, Derek Wall was recovering although unable to eat or drink without help, and would remain hospitalized for weeks longer, reports Emiley Morgan, The Deseret News.
Online Reports of Femoral Artery Rupture, American Football 2011
Sept. 3: Jacob Rainey, teenager, Virginia, touted quarterback for Woodberry Forest School, projected as a top college recruit in 2013, suffered femoral artery burst of a leg during a preseason scrimmage, among contact injuries when he was tackled from behind. Doctors amputated the lower leg on Sept. 10. Sources: The Daily Progress, The Associated Press, and MaxPreps.com.
Matt Chaney is a writer, editor, teacher and restaurant worker living in Missouri, USA. For more information, including about his 2009 book, Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, visit the homepage at www.fourwallspublishing.com.