Injured Football Player Finds New Path During Treatment

Published on 
October 17, 2014

Editor’s Note: This blog was written by one of our patients and provides a closer look at the challenges young athletes face during injury.

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My name is Michael Osborn and I am a rising senior at Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California. I have been a patient of Bianca Edison, MD, MS at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for more than a year. I suffered my third concussion in the fall and although I knew that night that my contact sports career was over, my family and I made the final decision a few months later with the guidance and recommendations of my doctor.

Prior to my injuries, I had been an all-star athlete in just about every sport that I played. I am known as a football player. The sport has been rooted in my identity since the third grade. Football is in my email address. Football runs through my veins. I had been working with college coaches and had been planning to play college ball once I graduated from high school.

A Tough Road

Suffering from repeated concussions has been tough on me physically and emotionally. I have had to miss a fair amount of school, make up a lot of schoolwork, and deal with peers and teachers not necessarily understanding why I was missing so much school. I looked “normal” on the outside, but I experienced symptoms from the concussions for several weeks after the incidents.

It can be a pretty scary and lonely experience, especially when you don’t know when you are going to feel better, how you are going to react in terms of return to play and return to school and studying. In addition, I had to participate in making the decision to give up all contact sports while my brain continues to develop. Such contact sports include the obvious, like football and lacrosse, and the not-so-obvious, like basketball and volleyball.

When making this decision, I was in a pretty dark place, and it took some time to accept this decision and truth. I talked about how I was feeling, even though it made me uncomfortable and sometimes upset me even more. I was blessed to have the support of my family, the coaches and teachers at school, and Dr. Edison.

Three months after my last concussion, I experienced happiness for the first time since the incident. It feels good to be back to some semblance of myself and to allow myself to feel joy. Now that I have given up contact sports, I wanted to find something else that might give me part of the excitement, camaraderie and physical challenges as football. I started crew lessons six months ago and have really enjoyed it.

While rowing doesn’t give me the same thrill that I received from contact sports, I do enjoy the sport. I have also started playing tennis and plan to try out for the tennis team this upcoming year.

Finding a New Path

Dr. Edison, also understanding my emotional and personal connection to football, offered me the opportunity to participate in a new project involving sports concussions, a support group at the Children’s Orthopaedic Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for teens who have or are suffering from concussions. I have worked with her to develop the structure and steps needed to implement such a group and beginning this fall, I will be leading the group sessions with the faculty mentorship of Dr. Edison and Tracy Zaslow, MD.

This has probably been the toughest experience of my life, but an experience from which I have learned a lot and grown personally. It is my hope that through this support group, I can reach out to help other athletes who have had similar experiences and challenges by helping to create a safe and supportive space to share thoughts, questions, and feelings and to not feel isolated any longer.

This is the first of its kind in Southern California, and I think this support group will be extremely beneficial for patients, athletes and their families.

How You Can Help

Consider making a donation to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and help treat kids just like Michael. Visit CHLA.org/Donate.