Pitcher Nearly Brain Dead After Incident

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

GREENSBURG, Pa. — RHP Kenny Wells of Seton Hill University came perilously close to being brain dead after a serious accident last season.

“On Feb. 7, 2017 during an intersquad game, I was hit in back of the head on the mound after our catcher threw a ball down to second base after warm up pitches prior to an inning,” said Wells.

“I was ducking as I typically do. When I was hit, I immediately fell to the ground.

“I had no idea what happened as I got up and tried to walk it off. Our athletic trainer (Megan Smith) came up to me and went through a concussion protocol as I was asked a number of questions.

“I was immediately shut down as she kept an eye on me. It may seem strange, but I felt fine and didn’t suffer any headache or nausea that typically happens when you suffer from a concussion.

“Then I went back to my dorm room and was told to let our trainer know immediately if any unusual symptoms happened. I was fine that evening.

“The next morning I woke up at 6 a.m. and took the concussion test, and I passed it. The following day, we had another intersquad game, and I did pretty well. On the third morning after I was hit, we had a 6 a.m. practice, and I decided to take an Ibuprofen pill prior to practice. 

“When I got to practice, I didn’t feel well and wasn’t acting like myself. So I went to the head trainer, and he sent me back to my room. Once I was there, I fell asleep.

“My roommate came back about an hour or so later and discovered I was having a seizure on the floor. He immediately called 911, and an ambulance rushed me to Westmoreland Hospital which is near the university. My trainer and coach were informed of what was happening by my roommate, and they immediately drove to the hospital.”

Jordan Blair, head athletic trainer at Seton Hill, said Wells appeared to be on his way to a full recovery when everything went south.

“I was actually with our wrestling team at the time Kenny was hit in the back of the head by our catcher,” said Blair.

“One of our other athletic trainers, Megan Smith, was able to get out to him and assess him. She said he was alert and cognitive and wasn’t experiencing a headache or nausea. Nothing abnormal was revealed at the time. Our concussion protocol is very strict, and we have one of the top doctors in the nation working with us in Dr. James Masterson.”

“After two days, Kenny wasn’t experiencing anything abnormal. Typically after 48 hours, an athlete is in the clear if he doesn’t have any headache or nausea or other unique symptoms.

“The morning of the third day after he was hit in the back of the head, he got up early in the morning for a 6 a.m. practice. And prior to going, he took Ibuprofen without our training staff knowing about it.”

Brain Begins To Bleed
Blair said there are different types of brain bleeds.

“Kenny had a spot in the brain that was bruised and had clotted. It wasn’t bleeding per se at the time. But the Ibuprofen he took before practice thinned the blood enough that it started to leak out of the clot.

“So the team, including Kenny, was at practice early in the morning this day. The team typically has an intense warm up. One of the pitchers, Don McWreath, brought Kenny over to me and said something was wrong with him. When I looked at Kenny, he looked lost.

“I thought that was highly unusual and had no idea Kenny had taken Ibuprofen prior to practice. He was warned about taking products such as Ibuprofen or aspirin that may thin the blood.

“So I am now worried that he is not acting normal at this point. Typically after 48 hours from such a head trauma, you aren’t concerned with a brain bleed anymore. Something would have developed already.

“Kenny is sitting in a room with me and is confused and not feeling all that great. He said he was tired, dizzy and nauseous. He is showing concussion symptoms which I hadn’t seen up to that point. So I call up our team physician Dr. Masterson and schedule Kenny to see him later that morning.

“Kenny went back to his room and took a nap before his appointment. I let him go back to his room thinking the concussion is there. Kenny’s roommate Brian Dabney opened his dorm door after practice and found Kenny having a seizure. Any time someone is having a seizure, it can be a life threatening emergency depending on the severity of it.”

To read more of this article, purchase the March 9, 2018 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The rest of the article delves into what happened to Kenny and how close he was to being brain dead.