ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Doctors say 90 percent of people who suffer a concussion make a full recovery within 7-10 days. For the other ten percent, the recovery can be slow and agonizing. John Hogan, 22, falls into the latter category. He's battled symptoms for two years.
John Hogan grew up wanting to play pro baseball and he was enjoying success as he reached for his dream. Hogan had a great career at Vianney High School, starred on the Rawlings Prospects traveling team and then headed for Austin Peay in the Ohio Valley Conference. Hogan was impressive in his first two years at the division one school, landing all-conference honors as a first baseman.
A collision at first base near the end of his second season would change everything. John says everything got blurry, but real bright. He felt "zoned out". John didn't know what was wrong. The diagnosis of a concussion would come months later.
John struggled to play summer ball in North Carolina. He suffered headaches, was dizzy, light-headed and had trouble focusing. Just felt out of it. His mother, Nicole Gillick says things came to a head after he went back to school for his junior year. Still suffering symptoms, he got lost driving to meet his parents for a visit halfway between his school in Tennesee and St. Louis. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion. John quit school and baseball and came home. Nicole says he couldn't drive, leave the house and could barely get out of bed. It was tough on John and his family and it still is. Two years later, John still struggles with blurry vision and a sensitivity to light. He is slowly showing improvement. He's also becoming more active and is able to run again.
Dr. David Brody, a neurologist at Washington University is now John's doctor. Dr. Brody is also currently working with the NFL in its efforts to understand and curb brain injuries. He treats former players dealing with neurological injuries.
Dr. Brody says rest is key after a player has suffered an injury, something John did not get. Although there is no cure for traumatic brain injury, he says you can treat the symptoms.. headaches, sleep problems, mood problems such as depression with rehabilitation and sometimes with medication.
Dr. Brody cautions against trying to push someone too hard to come back from a concussion. The injury could be to the part of the brain that controls motivation. But you do need to encourage them to return to some level of performance.. not too much, not too little.. it's a fine line.
Dr. Brody feels John is showing improvement, but can't promise John will be able to return to his highest level of performance. But he is optimistic John will return to a new level that is good for him. Brody strongly believes we need more scientific studies on the recovery from concussion. He believes the funding for such studies will be forthcoming now that the NFL, the Department of Defense and the NIH are showing a strong interest in such brain injuries.
As for baseball, John says he wouldn't mind trying to get back in the game. But he says his first priority now is to get back to a normal life.. be able to do things he used to be able to do.. before a concussion that derailed his young life. He hopes coaching some little leaguers this summer will be another step on the road to recovery.