CHICAGO (KMSP) - The parents of the Minnesota hockey player who was paralyzed during a game with his junior hockey team spoke out publicly Tuesday for the first time since the accident occurred more than two weeks ago.
Matt Olson’s parents, Doug and Sue, expressed their gratitude for the support that has poured in from friends, family and their son’s tight-knit hockey community that stretches from Chicago all the way back to Totino-Grace High School.
“We're amazed every day at the stories people share with us about how Matt touched their lives,” Sue said. “We knew Matt was a good kid, but we didn't fully understand the extent that he has touched the lives of others."
An Isanti, Minn. native, Olson was a member of the Chicago Cougars junior hockey team, desperately trying to earn an opportunity to play the sport he loves in college.
Olson was racing for a puck behind the net in a game on Feb. 21 when he lost an edge and crashed head-first into the boards.
Members of Olson’s medical team reported on Tuesday they first thought Olson severed his spinal cord when he arrived at Advocate Lutheran General in suburban Chicago. Fortunately that was not the case, but the accident left him a quadriplegic that currently needs a ventilator to help him breathe.
“He’s had a very devastating injury,” Dr. John Ruge, a neurosurgeon said. “Currently he can't move his arms or his legs. He can do a little shoulder shrug. And he's fine from here up."
But there is some hope for the future, as Olson has already shown the same intensity in his hospital room that he displayed on the ice.
A GoFundMe page has already generated $1,000 in financial assistance. Olson's medical team figures the young man's lifetime care will be calculated in the millions.
"Just those basic needs that everyone takes for granted,” Matt’s mom said. “We need help with because we are here at the hospital. We always have someone with matt. So it's 24/7.”
Olson’s medical team is going to try a special, advanced stem cell treatment that typically shows promise in stroke patients.
Olson’s parents told reporters on Tuesday that they were already a tight knit family before the injury and this has only brought them closer together.