Colin Teets' life changed dramatically in 2008, when at the age of 11 he collided with another child during hockey practice. His father, Paul, quickly realized how serious the injury was when Colin was unable to speak or move the right side of his body.
Colin was rushed to Cleveland Clinic's emergency department, where he immediately underwent extensive surgery. While in the E.R. Colin had to be resuscitated twice and doctors discovered he had suffered a serious brain injury.
Colin had experienced an arteriovenous malformation, a complication from broken blood vessels leaking into the brain. The injury causes victims to experience stroke-like symptoms from the hemorrhaging.
After three complicated but successful surgeries, Colin was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Children's Therapy and Rehabilitation Center. He began a long process of intensive physical and expressive therapy.
"Colin had to relearn a lot of basic activities that we take for granted," says Doug Henry, MD, Cleveland Clinic's Director of Developmental and Rehabilitation Pediatrics.
Cleveland Clinic's therapy and rehabilitation team worked hard to help Colin regain strength in his arms and legs, as well as slowly but surely redevelop his basic language skills.
“I wouldn't be this far if I didn't get the help from my therapists and my doctors at Cleveland Clinic's Children's Rehabilitation Hospital. They supported me and wouldn't let me give up. They helped me learn to use everything all over again. They helped me get through the tough times and kept me fighting."
"When he had trouble, they didn't let him give up. They kept him going and kept him looking for the positive. I have nothing but good things to say about the Cleveland Clinic," says Colin's mother Dawn.
Little by little Colin began improving physically. At the beginning of his junior year the Teets family reached out to the hockey coaches at Colin's high school in Westlake, Ohio to see if they would be interested in letting him join the team. The Westlake coaches didn't hesitate to bring Colin onboard.
During Colin's senior year his team got the chance to play one of their games at Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Lake Erie Monsters, Cleveland's professional hockey team. With five minutes left, Colin scored the game-winning goal on a deflection in front of a huge crowd. The shot was Colin's first career goal since his injury, because as a defender there are fewer opportunities to score.
"I scored on the ice where the Monsters play and I got the game-winning puck. I felt surprised and excited. I achieved what I wanted to achieve and scoring that goal put the cherry on top," Colin says.
Colin credits the team at Cleveland Clinic Children's for helping him fight for 8 years to regain the ability to walk, talk, and read.
“I wouldn't be this far if I didn't get the help from my therapists and my doctors at Cleveland Clinic's Children's Rehabilitation Hospital. They supported me and wouldn't let me give up. They helped me learn to use everything all over again. They helped me talk, read, and write. They helped me use muscles that I couldn't use. Before the injury I was right-handed. They taught me how to use my left hand. They helped me get through hard times with laughter and jokes,” says Colin. “They helped me get through the tough times and kept me fighting.”
Colin was awarded the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Courage Award, an honor given annually by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission in partnership with Cleveland Clinic. The award is for a student athlete who has overcome a medical challenge in his or her life through courage and determination.