Cincinnati Children's Blog

Invisible Battle with Concussions – Catesby’s Recovery

Invisible Battle with Concussions – Catesby’s Recovery

Catesby is our 14-year-old son who literally lives for sports. It is his identity. As a child who successfully deals with dyslexia, his main outlet is sports, the number one sport being soccer. Catesby plays on a highly competitive select travel team that competes in some of the top divisions in the region. While he is happy playing any and all sports, soccer is his world.

Catesby Clay

In August Catesby suffered a severe concussion, not from sports, but from being a teenage boy and messing around in our basement. After initially being treated near our home in Lexington, we drove to Cincinnati Children’s emergency department twice as we tried to break a migraine cycle that lasted more than two weeks. We were so thankful to the Cincinnati Children’s team who were ultimately able to bring him, and us, relief. Because of the concussion, Catesby stayed out of fall soccer for another three weeks.

Three months later Catesby was playing in a Middle School basketball game, giving his usual 110 percent, when he dove for a loose ball. His head hit the gym floor and it was also met with another player’s foot. The impact immediately led to concussion symptoms. 

Because this was his second concussion in three months we wanted to see a specialist and made an appointment with Dr. Gregory Walker at the Cincinnati Children’s Concussion Clinic

Compared to the first concussion, Catesby recovered from this one fairly quickly. Four days after the fall he was symptom
free. But, because he had sustained two concussions within three months, Dr. Walker felt it was important for him to have more time off to give his brain a chance to heal.

This was heartbreaking for Catesby. Not only would he miss the rest of his 8th grade basketball season, quite important in the 8th grade world, but he would also miss his soccer team’s trip to Disney World to play in a collegiate showcase at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Catesby had been dreaming about playing on these fields for years and now he was being told he wouldn’t be able to, despite not feeling any symptoms from his concussion.

It was around this time that my husband and I started to have serious concerns about Catesby’s mental health and depression. We watched our always active 14-year-old hide in his room with the door closed, not interacting with us, or his friends.

We brought these concerns to Dr. Walker, who did an amazing job addressing the situation with my son. The conversation was a turning point in Catesby’s recovery.

Dr. Gregory Walker

Dr. Walker gave Catesby an outline of activities he could do while he was recovering and insisted he go to his practices and help, even though he couldn’t fully participate. He asked us to tell his coaches to keep him involved as well, which was extremely beneficial. 

Through this experience we’ve learned that concussions can be difficult to understand because they’re not an injury you can see. People often just leave you alone, which is one of the worst things you can do for a kid who just wants to be active and his old self again. We learned from Dr. Walker that staying involved in activities and having a care plan is critical to recovery.

Dr. Walker and his team asked Catesby to give his brain time to heal. They did a great job of explaining why this was important and treated us like we were an important part of the care team. We all agreed that March 1st would be the right time for Catesby to return to play. Having this timeline gave him something to look forward to and helped bring my son up from the despair he felt earlier.

The staff at Cincinnati Children’s not only helped Catesby, but they helped our entire family. I could go on and on about
how quickly they returned my panicky calls and how the weight of worry and concern literally lifted off my shoulders
every time we walked through the door. The staff truly knows how to reach, calm, and educate, a frustrated 14-year-old athlete and his family.

The Clay family. Left to right: Brutus, Caroline Ann, Sarah, Catesby and Brutus.

After watching countdown clocks all over our house for weeks, Catesby finally made his return to the field! He proudly ran onto the field with his teammates cheering his return, while tears of joy streamed down my face.

What a long, long, long four months it had been. But we are absolutely certain we made the right decision to have him rest and allow time for his body to heal. Now our boy is back!

Thank you again for all that Cincinnati Children’s does. We’ve brought our children here for years for different reasons and we’re always thankful we live just 90 minutes away. 

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