Life after football for Mike Hanika

“That was my life, when I grew up my goal was to be a professional football player.”

It was a dream for Mike Hanika that was cut short after a visit to the University of Kansas Medical Center for headaches and vision problems.
“You know they insisted that I had brain trauma at some point I said no, they said have you ever been in a car accident, and I didn’t really relate it to football,” said Hanika.
Doctors said football was to blame. He now suffers from memory loss and has trouble walking.
Doctors diagnosed Hanika with a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy and frontal temporal dementia. The condition is found in professional athletes who participate in contact sports.
Doctors are now warning parents and athletes in all sports to watch for warning signs.
“Their response times might be slow, also a little bit change of a personality, things you just can’t quite put your finger on. It’s not always just the headache, nausea or vomiting,” said Via Christi Outreach Service Manager Joanna Hughes.
“I just want them to be aware. I want the parents to be aware there’s so much training available,” said Hanika.
“Seek help definitely. Don’t deny that maybe there is something not quite right here. Let your coach know immediately. If there is any concern parents need to listen and say hey this is something that needs to be checked,” said Hughes.
Despite Hanika’s condition, and the life changing diagnosis, he continues to enjoy life.
“You know I’m going to be happy whether I have to use a crutch walker or a wheel chair, and hopefully I’m going to see my kids get through.”

Through a grant Pittsburg’s Via Christi hospital offers a immediate post concussion assessment and cognitive test. For more information click here.