Former Clay football player recovering from traumatic brain injury

Christopher Hatfield
Christopher Hatfield
Doctor Matt Roth says it’s important to pay close attention to athletes after any big hit.
Doctor Matt Roth says it’s important to pay close attention to athletes after any big hit.

OREGON, OH (Toledo News Now) - It's estimated there are 250,000 sports-related concussions in high school sports each year.

Now, one northwest Ohio player is speaking out after he became one of the statistics.

"I was in a drill at practice and I don't know if it was helmet to helmet, I'm assuming it was, because I was knocked out," said former Clay High School lineman Christopher Hatfield.

In the blink of an eye, Hatfield's life changed forever. It wasn't just a concussion, like he'd experienced a number of times before. This time, it was a traumatic brain injury.

"It's scary. I had no clue what it was. I'd heard of concussions, but I had no clue what a traumatic brain injury was," said Hatfield.

Hatfield was out of school from the middle of October until March. He nearly didn't graduate.

He went through speech and physical therapy, and he still has a long road ahead.

"I couldn't function. I had amnesia until probably February," said Hatfield.

Doctor Matt Roth is a family and sports medicine doctor with ProMedica. He says head injuries aren't 100 percent avoidable, so close attention needs to be paid to any big hit.

"It's important for coaches and medical personnel and parents on the sidelines to pay attention to these changes when they're just not acting right, they're just not looking right. To get them out of there and keep them out of there," said Roth.

Hatfield said he thought he was invincible and it was all about big hits.

"Everyone wants to see that big hit," says Hatfield. Now, he has a message for other young athletes like himself. "Protect their head. And when they know they have a concussion, to stop," said Hatfield.

Hatfield says he was wearing a good helmet, but it still didn't save him from injury. To see a list of the types of helmets being used in your school, click here.

So how safe are the helmets your high school football players are wearing? Tonight at 11, Amanda explains a rating system for how much a helmet protects a players head, and tells you which types of helmets Toledo area players are wearing. Plus, hear what coaches and athletic directors say they're doing to keep kids safe.

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