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Teen shares his football concussion story

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A recent high school graduate is sharing his concussion story with other local students to promote sports safety.  In this Focus on Education report WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says he underwent a 14-month recovery during his junior year.

"This one was different -- definitely a more sever hit," said Michael McCall of Kenmore, graduated last month from Canisius High School in Buffalo. 

McCall suffered the concussion back in August of 2012 while on the practice field.  McCall appeared Thursday at his former grade school,  St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore.  McCall he shared his injury story with 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

"I think you need to be smart about it," said McCall referring to playing sports and offering advise to other teens who play sports.  "You definitely need to be teaching the right tackling techniques from top to bottom in football -- for sure.  And I think that you need to teach the kids that it's definitely not worth it to go back in after you receive a certain hit," said McCall

During his recovery, McCall worked with a team of doctors from Dent Neurology  Dr. John Leddy of UB.  Leddy was awarded a $1-million grant by the NFL to study the effects of these types of injuries and the recovery process.

Linda Garrity -- who serves as media director at St. John's grade school tutored McCall during his recovery.

"It was really interesting how his brain was functioning, because for instance, he could do complex Trig and pre-Calc and yet, when we got down to the very basic of two minus six he would be sitting there saying 'I remembering you teaching'," said Garrity. "But he could not process it."

Nationally the rate of brain concussions among high school athletes has more than doubled between 2005 and 2012. 

As an athlete, McCall was initially eyed by some prestigious colleges for playing football, but his injury ended those plans.

Because his top vertebra was slightly tipped and shifted, and he was seeing double. He could read. He could lift his head up and down without it triggering a migraine," said Peggy McCall, Michael's mother.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Michael McCall of Kenmore with his mother Peggy talking about his concussion.

Still, despite his concussion, McCall and his mother say they would not discourage other students from participating in sport. 

"What do you say to a parent, that is really on the edge of letting their child play sport because they are so fearful of it," asked Buckley.

I get asked this often, and in all honesty -- if I knew what I knew -- you know my other son was coming up -- and they wanted to play football -- I would have to let them," said McCall.