After suffering three concussions in a three-year span, former soccer star Britt Payton hasn't been able to return to Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West High since his freshman year. He hopes to return in the fall. As a senior.
Payton's harrowing battle against a rare post-concussion syndrome that has lasted years is chronicled wonderfully by John Keilman of the Chicago Tribune.
It began in February 2011, when Payton took a kick to the face while attempting to preserve a shutout as a 15-year-old goalkeeper for his club soccer team, according to the Tribune. He suffered another concussion a few months earlier and a third at age 12.
Despite a bloody nose and a brief dizzy spell, Payton finished the game, Keilman said, and the Glenbard West frosh returned to school with no symptoms. Four days later, however, a headache reportedly transformed into incapacitating pain during a geometry quiz.
Within a month, Payton couldn't even stand light or sound let alone read or write, telling the Tribune. "Even the noise of people turning the pages was giving me a bad headache."
Only five percent of patients report post-concussion syndrome (symptoms lasting beyond a few months) and fewer than 20 percent of them ever recover once the splitting headaches continue for more than a year, doctors told Keilman.
"In a small but important segment of people, headaches can last months or years or a lifetime," Illinois-based neurologist Dr. Larry Robbins told the Tribune. "Once Humpty Dumpty breaks, we can't always put the eggshell back together again."
As a result, once Payton stopped attending school, teachers, counselors and even doctors questioned the teenager's intentions. Still, his parents spent a reported $40,000 over two years on painkillers, pressurized chamber sessions and everything in between.
Eventually, they turned to Ted Carrick, an Atlanta-based chiropractic neurologist who -- as Keilman noted -- treated NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for post-concussion symptoms.
Carrick treated Payton, and within a couple weeks the former soccer standout was already feeling better, the teenager told Keilman. The headaches have dissipated significantly, he's begun exercising outdoors and can even read small portions at a time.
According to the Tribune, Payton plans to return to school in the fall.