Headed for Success After Concussion

Cody Mastay

Playing center for Detroit’s Honeybaked Hockey team, Cody Mastay was going for a loose puck below the goal line when he was hit from behind. His head slammed into the wall. He blacked out. Then a messy finish in the third period. After nearly three months in a dark room and visits to several specialists, Cody came to Henry Ford and met the match he needed – the perfect physician for putting him back on the ice.

In the locker room after the hit, the game-adrenaline was gone, and Cody saw black dots. Lights and sounds were painful. With his ringing ears, nausea buckled him. Urgent care providers diagnosed the concussion. Cody knew the protocol, and he started the months’ long lay down. Quiet room. No lights. No phone.

“As with any athlete who has a concussion, you have to heal your brain. You immediately get taken away from everything – all the stimulus that kept me going every day. It was a grind,” says Cody, 20, currently the team captain for the Metro Jets who has been playing hockey since he was three years old.

To stay in the game, Cody played mental hockey. He’d think about his highlight reel and the positive things his coach and parents said to him. “The Lord was with me every day,” says Cody. “I was trying to heal and take care of myself, but I couldn’t provide for the people I’m close to, as I normally would.”

Concerned about Cody’s long-lasting symptoms, his parents arranged for in-depth concussion testing near his home in Colorado. Gradually, his test scores improved. “The doctors were saying, because I’m an athlete, I had the highest test scores for someone with symptoms,” says Cody.

Cody Mastay HockeyBack in Michigan, specialists performed neck stretches to relieve pain. The benefits were minimal and temporary. A chiropractor realigned the C1 and C2 vertebrae. Helpful, but still painful. Some hockey friends led Cody to Henry Ford.

After a preliminary visit with sports specialist James Moeller, M.D., Cody was referred to Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D., medical director of the Henry Ford Kutcher Clinic for Concussion and Sports Neurology.

“Dr. Kutcher explained that my brainstem was sending false pain signals to my brain. That was causing migraines and pulsating in my temples,” says Cody. “He realized how long I’d been trying to get back to my normal self, and he was upset that I hadn’t found him earlier. He knew he could help me. It was great hearing that on the first day I was there.”

Cody responded well to a prednisone burst and taper course to address his post-concussion syndrome. Then Dr. Kutcher referred Cody to Henry Ford Sports Physical Therapist Derek Chan for on-ice workouts and monitoring. The Covid-19 pandemic limited clinic visits and postponed organized sports, but eventually Cody was able to get back on the ice.

“Dr. Kutcher is super smart and very respectful. He’s a great doctor, and I’m so thankful for him,” says Cody. “I walked out of Henry Ford feeling like a new person – fully healed. I was absolutely blown away. They helped me so much. It was amazing. Although the other treatments helped, they didn’t get my symptoms to zero like Henry Ford did.”

After a second concussion in February 2021, Cody acted quickly to see Dr. Kutcher. Following the initial evaluation, Dr. Kutcher tested the overall health of Cody’s brain network through off-ice exertional challenges supervised by athletic trainers. This included sustained cardio, interval cardio, athletic agility, visual-spatial, reaction time, memory, motor patterning and decision-making drills. Also, neurological exams were performed at three separate intervals and at the end of activity. Cody advanced to participate in non-contact practice, then contact practice and finally full-game play.

Athlete safety

How To Be Proactive About Concussions In Student Athletes. Learn more

Recommendations for Cody and others who’ve experienced concussion and post-concussion syndrome? Maintain good hygiene for sleep and headaches.

Although Cody will soon age out of junior hockey, he has plans for college. “I think I want to be a physical therapist like Derek Chan.”

Have an injury?

Appointments within 24 business hours. Virtual visits available. Call (313) 651-1969.


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