Concussion leaves Provo student in coma; 11 years later, Bohrer still in wheelchair

2007-10-27T23:00:00Z Concussion leaves Provo student in coma; 11 years later, Bohrer still in wheelchairJoe Pyrah - DAILY HERALD Daily Herald
October 27, 2007 11:00 pm  • 

Taped to an old brown fridge in the Timpview High School training room, next to a plea of "Please don't drink from cups in the fridge," are yellowing articles about dead football players.

Under those are the remains of another article: a blank scrap of newsprint, clinging to the surface via peeling tape more than a decade old.

That's all that remains of the story of Brad Bohrer, a junior 11 years ago who played linebacker on the varsity and junior varsity teams at cross-town Provo High School. The first game of the season, he took a hit and complained about tingling in the back of his head.

His mother took him to the ER that night, then to the family doctor the next day. A few weeks later and cleared by a doctor, Brad, a 4.0 student, came out of the game against Payson after being speared in the helmet, complaining about a pain in his left eye.

First-year trainer Donny Bills had chatted with Brad earlier in the day about upcoming homecoming celebrations and everything seemed OK. Now, he was unsure of the problem. Five minutes later, Brad was complaining again on the sidelines, this time more strenuously. His eye was going to explode.

Bills called Bohrer's father, Alan, out of the stands and told him he needed to get his son to a hospital. As the father headed toward the parking lot, Bills was again engaged by Brad, who lashed out verbally.

"All of a sudden he just crashed right there," Bills said. "He started throwing up, then went completely unconscious."

Bohrer suffered from a subdural hematoma, likely the result of being treated for whiplash and not a concussion and not being given the proper amount of time to recover from that first hit. Bills was so impacted by the incident that he pursued a master's degree with a thesis on evaluating head trauma.

For nine months Brad remained in a coma, and now is incapable of initiating action, confined to a wheelchair and in need of constant care. He can respond and even speak briefly, if helped. But for 45 minutes on Wednesday, as his family spoke about the past 11 years, 26-year-old Brad only sat quietly in his electric wheelchair, occasionally showing a smile and once letting out a hearty laugh. The family's life has been impacted in every possible way. The flow of father, brother and sister over to Brad's wheelchair was constant, instinctive, as they lifted his head, adjusted his pillow or tried to draw out a response. They talked of the first three years after the collapse as they traveled the country looking for treatment that would bring a swift recovery.

None came.

Now victories come an inch at a time. Brad recently started tracking with both eyes. Previously, his left eye would roll off to the side.

The family has had to come together both physically and spiritually, said mother Karen Bohrer, with Brad at the center.

"We've learned to be more sensitive to the spirit, to the slightest indication of need," she said. "(You have to say) if I'm hungry, he might be, too."

The topic of head injuries is a passionate one. Eleven years ago was also during famed NFL quarterback Steve Young's heyday. Young had multiple concussions, many of which he was praised for playing through.

"You get a concussion, so whatfi" Alan said. "That's the attitude you had."

The family grates at the idea of coaches revving up athletes who will then go out and hit opponents as hard as they can.

"The neurosurgeon said it's just like boxing. Every hit to the head does damage," Karen said.

When Vaughn, two years Brad's junior, expressed interest in high school football, his parents refused.

"We wouldn't let him play. It broke his heart," Karen said. "We told him to go play golf. Go play tennis."

Copyright 2015 Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow the Daily Herald

Deals, Offers and Events