ATLANTA — A local football player critically injured on the field is tossing a football again.
Westlake graduate Christion Abercrombie suffered a severe brain injury while playing for Tennessee State University.
Abercrombie's doctor told Channel 2's Tom Regan that she had a game of catch with him this week and that he's making great progress on the long road to recovery.
Dr. Ana Elmers and her colleagues have been working with Christion since he arrived at the Shepherd Center more than a month ago.
“He was not awake. He was not doing anything consistently -- not following commands, not opening his eyes consistently,” Elmers said.
But things have changed dramatically for the college student.
“We are so excited to see all the progress he's made,” Elmers said.
“You've been tossing the football to him? Regan asked Elmers.
“Right. Like you and me sitting across from each other and tossing it back and forth,” Elmers said.
The TSU linebacker took some blows to the head during a game in September. After leaving the field at halftime, he collapsed.
"That must have been heart-wrenching for you,” Regan said to Christion’s mother, Staci.
“It was,” Staci Abercrombie said.
She told Regan she knew Christion had suffered a traumatic brain injury but didn't know how serious it was.
"Think of it like the central processing unit of a computer being damaged,” Elmers said.
Christion has been reconnecting his brain to his body, having to relearn basic skills such as eating, talking and walking.
Like a true athlete, he never quits. He told his father that he wants to play football again.
“Christion said, ‘I ain’t done.’ And Derrick (his father) said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘I'm playing again.’ That's just what he believes,” Staci Abercrombie said.
And it’s not just football he’s talking about.
“I just left him in the gym. He was shooting hoops with his occupational therapy team,” Staci Abercrombie said. “He missed a couple, so I said, ‘Come on, we don't lose shots now.’ I feel in my heart, Christion will bounce back better than before.”
Staci Abercrombie told Regan she hopes to get Christion back home by January.
Doctors said the typical recovery time for brain injury patients is one year to 18 months.
If you would like to help the family out, a GoFundMe page was set up to assist Christion in his recovery.
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