Injured hockey player expected to continue rehab at home in coming weeks
Injured hockey player Matt Olson is expected to return to his home near Minnesota's Twin Cities to continue his rehab in the next week or two, his family said Thursday.
Olson, a 20-year-old junior league defenseman with the Chicago Cougars, suffered a severe spinal cord injury Feb. 21 during a game at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates. Since then, he's been recovering at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he also received a rare adult stem cell treatment.
His family said in a statement released by the hospital Thursday that he is doing well -- other than a little bout with pneumonia -- and is right about where his occupational and physical therapy teams expect him to be. When Olson is ready, he will return home to continue his rehab, according to the statement.
The hospital on Thursday also released the first public photos of Olson since his injury. In one photo, he is pictured with his parents, Sue and Doug, and in another, with his girlfriend Katie.
Olson, of Isanti, Minnesota, was injured during the Cougars game when he was racing for the puck behind the net and his skate blade caught an edge in the ice. The injury immediately rendered him a quadriplegic.
Olson's neurosurgeon, Dr. John Ruge, said at a news conference March 8 that Olson received a novel adult-derived stem cell treatment that could reduce or stop his spinal cord injury from getting worse. It's the first time in the nation such a treatment has been used for someone with a spinal cord injury, though the treatment has proved to be effective in stroke patients, Ruge said.
The treatment was made available to Olson "through the hockey community" that has rallied around him since his injury, Ruge said.
Olson's parents on Thursday again thanked those who have helped their son, and lauded the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild organizations, which have donated game tickets, autographed items, and other one-of-a-kind experiences in an auction that will help pay for Olson's mounting medical costs.
More than $126,000 had been raised for Olson in a GoFundMe account.
"Words cannot express how thankful we are to the Chicagoland community for taking us in and treating us like family. The love and support has been nothing short of amazing," the Olson family said in the statement.