Pittsburgh doctors evaluate quality of life improvements for Bill Johnson


Pittsburgh doctors evaluate quality of life improvements for Bill Johnson{mosimage}Bill Johnson was never one to find the easiest way down the mountain. He was fast and took great pride in his technical abilities on the most difficult mountains. He also gained as much notoriety for his brash and outrageous actions and personality as he did for being the first skier from the United States to win a gold medal in downhill skiing in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympic Games.

The United States had never won the gold and 1984 was a time when the United States continued to hold little hope for winning. Along came the bad boy of skiing Bill Johnson. He was brash, he was even arrogant. Bill Johnson claimed he would win the Gold. Bill Johnson delivered on his promise and made us proud. There were movies (Going For The Gold with Anthony Edwards) book deals and endorsements.

Post Gold Medal life however was challenging and he suffered tremendous trauma as one of his children drowned in an accident and his marriage failed. Bill Johnson found resolve by becoming competitive again and set out to win another gold medal. The harsh lessons of Bill Johnson continued as he suffered among the most horrific and tragic accidents in sports. During Bill’s attempted Olympic comeback at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Whitefish, Montana in 2001, he suffered a traumatic brain injury while traveling 70 MPH.

He was in a coma for three weeks and lost six years of memories. Bill has experienced many negative challenges as a result of his injuries. He has suffered immense pain and lost most of his memory for a six year period. The surgery on his severed tong has affected his speech. Bill gets frustrated and angry from time to time. These challenges even included public embarrassment as he was pulled over and suspected for drunk driving. Bill became agitated and was arrested and jailed for assault. The police thought he was drunk because of his brain injury, speech and behavior. Bill Johnson’s alcohol level test results were ’00.0′.

Bill Johnson is departing Portland Oregon today to travel to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and The Center for Sports Medicine. The doctors in Pittsburgh feel there may be more options to increase the health and quality of life Bill should be experiencing. They are providing a complete and comprehensive evaluation.

The medical team in Pittsburgh is being headed up by Dr. Joseph Charles Marron, Vice Chairman and Professor of the Department of Neurological Surgery and Dr. Mark Lovell, a nationally renowned sports concussion researcher, Dr. Lovell oversees the neuropsychological testing programs for the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) and directs the concussion testing for Championship Auto Racing Teams and the Indianapolis Racing League. He is chairman of the NHL’s Neuropsychology Advisory Board. Dr. Maroon has been the team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Club for the past 20 years and has developed innovated programs for the management of athletes with cerebral concussions. ImPACT© (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) was developed by Doctor Marron and his colleague, neuropsychologist Mark Lovell, Ph.D. It is the first computerized evaluation system used that may help determine concussion severity. Dr. Marron’s research into brain tumors and diseases of the spine have lead to many innovative techniques for diagnosing and treating these disorders. He has operated on over 1,000 pituitary tumors and now uses an endoscopic/microscopic approach. In 2002, he was nominated a Health Care Hero Lifetime Achievement Award finalist by the Pittsburgh Business Times and has been listed for 8 consecutive years as one of ‘America’s Best Neurosurgeons’ in the publication of America’s Best Doctors.

Dr. Lovell’s work involves researching the neurocognitive effects of sports concussion and developing better methods of post-concussion evaluation to determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to sports following a concussion. In addition to working with professional and collegiate athletes, Dr. Lovell and the UPMC team, over the last several years, have made a sophisticated and standardized concussion evaluation program available to high school and younger athletes nationwide.

The purpose of the visit is that Bill Johnson will undergo extensive comprehensive evaluations and testing. The goal of working with the Pittsburgh medical team is to overcome some difficulties Bill has experienced and improve his quality of life. ‘There will be an extended strategy and care plan developed. Bill, his family and the medical team are all hopeful that improvements are possible and will be realized. This is the next logical step in the long and extended process of recovery of traumatic brain injury. While Bill has been able to work, travel and attend events around the world as a spokesperson for traumatic brain injury, there is still more work to do for Bill to improve his life’ according to a spokesperson working with the Johnson family. Bill Johnson, his family and the Bill Johnson Foundation wish to thank the community for the generous outpouring of support that has been shown during these difficult times.

Press Release

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