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Colin ’s Story

Colin Teets, now 16, has survived a ruptured AVM in the left side of the brain. His brain injury happened during youth hockey practice when he was eleven. He has limited use of his right side and still has difficulties with speech and language despite five years of therapy.  Colin is in his junior year of high school where he has a fulltime aide.  He participates in vocational training for construction trades.  He is driving and has recently joined the hockey team. 


Colin had an Arterio-Venous Malformation, or AVM, rupture in his head during hockey practice on the evening of Thursday, October 9, 2008. An AVM is an abnormal collection of blood vessels in the brain. To learn more about AVM visit:


Colin was rushed to Metro Hospital for emergency brain surgery. They were able to remove the hemorrhage from the brain, but due to the difficult location of the AVM, decided to wait for swelling and agitation of the brain to subside before removing the AVM itself. He was placed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Metro Hospital.

He had his breathing tube removed five days later. He struggled to keep his air passages clear so his breathing was assisted by a BI-PAP machine that forces air into his airways. He was eventually weaned from this machine and breathing on his own.

After six days in PICU, Colin finally responded to commands. He gave a thumbs-up, held up two fingers, gave the nurse “five” and felt around his head.He responded to questions of pain with a thumbs-up. He moved his left arm and leg, but the right side of his body only responded reflexively. Based on the location of the AVM, it was suspected that Colin would have difficulties with speech and language, as well as movement.

From PICU the doctor placed Colin at Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation, an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Here he waited for a second surgery to remove the AVM and began intensive therapy.

He spent two months in the hospital.  Many friends and family visited Colin to show their support and love. He made remarkable progress, but he had a long way to go.

Colin's second surgery took place on January 7, 2009.  Things did not go as planned.  Another vein started bleeding into the brain.  After a stressful 9 hours of surgery he was moved into the PICU and we were allowed to see him. 

Because of the location of the AVM it was difficult to remove.  Dr. Geertman suspected that Colin would have significant setbacks due to further damage to the brain.  His skull piece was left outto allow for swelling and easy access in case there was an emergency.

After a few days in PICU Colin was moved to a regular room.  He had difficulties keeping food down.  The hospital stay lasted a total of seven days.  Setbacks in speech were obvious right away, but he was still able to talk so we were thankful.

Colin was released to our care.  He would be staying at home and attending the Rehabilitation Hospital daily for his therapies. 

The third surgery took place at Metro Hospital on Thursday, March 12, 2009.  Colin's bone flap was replaced.  Everything went as planned and the hospital stay was only two days; 24 hours in PICU and 24 hours in a regular room.

Colin continued outpatient therapy at the Children's Hospital and eventually he returned to school on a part-time basis. He was provided a fulltime aide and accommodations were made to his curriculum.

After a summer of tutoring and therapy, Colin went back to school full-time and started seventh grade in the fall of 2009.  We developed an Individualized Education Plan which included a personal aide to assist him with academics.  Westlake is remarkable in handling issues for special education.

In the fall of 2011 Colin started high school and he will graduate in June of 2015.