High School Football Player Victim of 'Second Impact Syndrome'


Since then, Cody has regained the ability to speak, but still lacks short-term memory. He can walk on a treadmill for six minutes at a time with his mother or father at his side, but he can't balance on his own and depends on a wheelchair to get around.

"For someone who wasn't supposed to make it through, he's beaten all the odds," Becky said, adding that she's able to see a different side to her son that had previously been reserved only for his school friends. "He was a class clown. He was hilarious, but we didn't see that much at home."

She said now they call him their entertainer, and they're encouraged by his progress.

Cody's case shows that athletes need to get off the playing field if they've had head injuries, Turner said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines suggesting that players with signs of concussion should be removed from play and not return until they have permission from their doctor and show no symptoms with exertion.

In August 2011, 22-year-old Derek Sheely died one week after collapsing at football practice at Frostburg State University, where he was a starting fullback. His uncontrollable brain swelling led doctors and his father to believe it was SIS.

An estimated 1.7 million people receive a traumatic brain injury, which includes concussions, each year, according to the CDC.

"We have this gladiator mentality out there," Becky said. "'Be tough.' 'Hang in there.' 'Take one for the team.' We've got to change."

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