Hockey Hit Reveals Something Serious

On January 22, 2017, 16-year-old Payton Walters took a bad blow from an elbow to his chin while engaging in one of his passions: playing hockey.  He was knocked off his feet, struck his head against the ice, and shortly after, couldn't remember what had happened, and suffered a seizure.

Payton was rushed to Galisano Children's Hospital via ambulance, where a CT scan revealed something lurking under the surface that was even worse than the concussion he had suffered.  In fact, the hockey injury may have saved Payton's life by revealing a congenital left frontal arteriovaneous malformation, or AVM, in his brain.  

The Mayo Clinic describes and AVM this way: "A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.  The arteries are responsible for taking oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. Veins carry the oxygen-depleted blood back to the lungs and heart. A brain AVM disrupts this vital process." With this condition comes the risk of stroke, brain damage, and even death.  Surgery to partially fix the AVM would involve embolizing some of the veins in the tangle,  but after four days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, multiple MRIs, and a cerberal angiogram, the neurosurgery staff was unable to safely identify which veins to target.  Blocking the wrong vessels could lead to Payton being paralyzed in his right leg and hand, and to language processing defecits.

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