Athlete Back on Football Field Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Ethan Fox with Cowboys defensive back Morris Claiborne.

Ethan pictured with Cowboys Defensive Back Morris Claiborne.


In 2012, Children’s admitted 330 patients with traumatic brain injuries. Ethan Fox was one of them.

Ethan’s dad, Jason Fox, wasn’t sure if his son would be able to speak or even recognize him after receiving a traumatic brain injury while playing an impromptu touch-football game during recess at Merriman Park Elementary in Dallas.

Ethan’s head struck his best friend’s knee, which caused him to drop to the ground. His teacher quickly realized this was much more than a concussion, and Ethan remained unconscious while his teacher dialed 911.

Paramedics passed several hospitals on the way to Children’s, knowing that he needed a Level 1 Trauma Center. Ethan was in surgery within 20 minutes of arrival.

“Only 10 more minutes and Ethan would not have survived the ride to the hospital,” says Neurosurgeon Dr. Bradley Weprin.

Ethan’s skull split like an eggshell from the collision’s impact. A ruptured artery compressed the brain onto the brainstem.

“In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, his eyes rolled back into his head and I knew he wasn’t there,” says Jason. It was tough. I was desperately trying to get him to respond.”

One year later, the 11-year-old is back in action.

Suited Up and Back in the Game

Ethan Fox is ready to play Football following a near-fatal head injury

Ethan is back on the football field one year after a near-fatal head injury.

“Everyone at Children’s helped by caring and working hard to make sure Ethan was well taken care of. Dr. Weprin had a great bedside manner and was very confident in his ability and knowledge. Having him assure me that Ethan was OK and could do whatever any other kid could once he had fully healed was a great relief.”

Ethan was back to throwing the football only a few months after his accident.

“He now plays linebacker and middle linebacker for Spring Valley Athletic Association. He loves being on a team with friends and getting better so he can play college and pro football. ”

Know the Warning Signs

With school back in session, the risk for these types of injuries increases as kids’ thoughts turn to football and other sports. Neurosurgeon Dr. Bradley Weprin says Ethan’s story should remind parents of the importance of knowing the warning signs: loss of consciousness and sensory or behavioral problems after hitting the head signal a serious injury that needs immediate medical attention.

Comeback Kids

Ethan’s story is part of our “Comeback Kid” series where we feature young athletes who were injured or diagnosed with a condition that stopped them in their tracks. After undergoing treatment at Children’s these athletes are back in action. Be sure to read more inspiring “Comeback Kid” stories.

More From Our Comeback Kid Series


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