Waynesboro graduate Kody Brown was in peak condition before his senior year. But his doctors thought otherwise. Brown was diagnosed with a dangerous case of post-concussion syndrome, sidelining him from football. Video by Lindsey Smith
One year ago, Kody Brown was fresh off an offseason wrestling tour and in the best shape of his life. He was ready to take on his senior year as a defensive starter for the Waynesboro football team, and was a returning veteran of the District 3 wrestling tournament.
Brown stepped into his pediatrician's office that summer with his high school physical form in-hand for the same physical he's been through his entire life.
Height, check. Weight, check. Papers signed, play ball.
But this year, Brown's new nurse checked him head to toe - literally, and found an abnormality in his feet, preventing him from being immediately cleared to play football.
"I was really mad; I just wanted her to sign the papers," Brown said, "but she said there could be something seriously wrong with me, so I went to see the other doctor."
After seeing a podiatrist, Brown was cleared to play football. However, one week into the season, doctors found that Brown had sustained an unknown number of concussions throughout his athletic career, putting him in serious danger every time he strapped on his football pads, or stepped onto the wrestling mat.
"(Dr. Dave Sullivan) told me, if you walk back on the football field, you might not walk off again," Brown said, referring to a conversation after his initial visit with Sullivan, a chiropractic neurologist, who diagnosed Brown with post-concussion syndrome. Brown had played in his second game of the season just days before.
Despite the risks, Brown chose to play in Indians' upcoming game against Gettysburg, but immediately began seeing Sullivan for treatment, ending his high school football career.
"I wanted to make it my last game," Brown said. "I didn’t want to say, 'I played last week, and there is another one in two days that I’m not going to play in.' I made the decision to play my last game."
In hindsight, Brown is happy he made the decision to forgo the remainder of his football season. He underwent treatment with Sullivan for four months before being cleared at 100 percent to continue his athletic career at Waynesboro, just in time for wrestling season.
"The day after I was cleared I was on the wrestling mat," Brown said.
But his luck with injuries didn't end there.
Two days before the first match of the season, Brown twisted his knee at practice, causing it to swell and bruise, nearly sidelining him again. But Brown again pushed the odds and wrestled in the opening meet with his leg wrapped so tight, he could barely move it.
But the knee injury eventually kept him off the mat for the remainder of the season after deciding to have surgery. He wrestled only twice, going 1-1 on the season, falling in a 7-4 decision to Greencastle's Youssef Mohamed, and a 3-2 victory over Austin Richcreek of Dover.
Brown, who was slated to wrestle at Penn State Mont Alto, decided to hang up his singlet for good after the surgery. He still plans to attend Mont Alto in the fall.
Although his life is no longer directly threatened from his multiple concussions, Brown says he still fears he may have contracted chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which cannot be detected until after death.
"But by that time I have no worries at all," Brown said.
In the meantime, Brown is using his first-hand experience to stress the importance of concussion prevention.