Catheter Procedure Helps Stop Concussion Headaches

Concussions can cause a lifetime of pain.

A Denton college student knows that well, after a 90 mile-per-hour fastball to the head ended his baseball career. But a new treatment is providing some much needed relief .

Jackson Weatherford loves baseball and has equipment and memories from his high school days on the field on display in his room.

"This is my bat collection. My dad calls it the lumber yard," Weatherford said.

He also keeps the helmet he was wearing during the game that changed his life.

"Everybody signed it. It reminds me of who was there and who knows why I am the way I am," Weatherford said.

That fastball struck Weatherford on the left side of his head.

"From the second it hit me, I was out of it. I don't remember anything," Weatherford said.

A series of concussions ended his baseball career and now, two years later, he still the effects of his head injury.

The dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and pain became his way of life.

"I had lost hope of thinking that something would come along that could help me," he said.

But something did come along, thanks to Dr. Chad Stephens, an interventional pain and sports medicine physician in Southlake.

He used a device called a SphenoCath to deliver pain-blocking medicines with a catheter though Weatherford's nose.

"If you think about, a defibrillator is used when someone's heart has stopped, and you shock the heart and it starts to beat it again. It is doing that kind of reset to your autonomic nervous system," Stephens said.

The medicine interrupts the nerve signals associating with migraines or post-concussion headaches and, minutes afterwards, Weatherford's pain is gone.

"He's at a much more manageable level, and some days he has minimal to no headache, and that's remarkably different from the last two years," Stephens said.

Weatherford still gets occasional headaches and will still need further SphenoCath procedures, but he says he has a new sense of freedom.

Now an equipment manager for the University of North Texas football team, Weatherford says he's looking forward to living life again.

"It's given me a sense of a small chance of hope again, something I lost a lot of," he said.

Stephens says the success rate for the procedure is 90 percent and many concussion sufferers are candidates.

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