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Commotio Cordis

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Brik Chesley loves sports. And football is his favorite. He's just a junior on the Spanish Springs High School team but this could have been his last year. During a practice one morning, he died. "I turned away and he punches me right in the solar plexus area and I think 'oh, I got the wind knocked out of me.' So I went to kneel down and I think 'catch my breath, catch my breath' and I stand back up and just black out."

When Brik came to, his coach, Scott Hare was performing CPR and trying to bring him back to life. "Ya, we were basically just talking and I was working with a group looking out this way and at that point and time really right behind me he took a spill."

What Coach Hare did next was crucial. He checked for Brik's pulse. He couldn't find one, because Brik's heart was basically quivering in his chest. It's a condition called commotio cordis. Because of his training, Coach Hare immediately started chest compressions. It was those compression that saved Brik's life. "And you realize we were seconds away from everybody's lives changing dramatically."

Dr. Luis Palacio is a family and sports medicine doctor. He's an expert in commotio cordis. He says you have a three minute window to start CPR. "The key is if you can get the CPR started in that time frame, you reset the heart to have the correct rhythm to restart things but once you lose that the heart peters out."

There are only 223 cases of commotio cordis ever recorded. Only 63 victims survived. And of those 63, only 14 survived without getting zapped by external defibrillators. Brik is one of them.

And when he returned to practice, just a few days after the accident, his dad, Carl, says his family supported him. "It's a blessing, you move on. I mean what am I going to be afraid to cross the road. You just can't live like that."

And Brik has never looked back, taking hits on the football field and not thinking about the hit that almost killed him.

Written By Wendy Damonte
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