Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) - A hit to the head during a sand soccer game led to years of trouble for Matthew De'Angelo.
"I was going up for a header with another player and hit heads and I actually had a seizure on the field," De'Angelo told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo.
"They now call it an impact seizure, it’s a one time because of some type of trauma to the head, it’s an impact seizure," his mother Jennifer Cottle explained.
Coupled with previous injuries sustained as a kid, De'Angelo's quality of life began to deteriorate.
"I was having academic issues and social issues and depression anxiety," he shared.
"He starts having problems in school, his grades start dropping, he’s hiding the fact that he’s having issues, everything’s okay mom I’ll be fine, he started pulling away from his social group," Cottle related.
It took fighting and determination on her part to get D'Angelo diagnosed.
"I remember taking him to the pediatricians and psychologists and everyone is telling me 'He’s just going through a phase, he’s a teenager,'" she said.
Finally, a neuropsychologist was able to identify what was wrong.
"He put him through a battery of tests and they confirmed that he was suffering from post-concussion syndrome."
Still, even with the diagnosis, there wasn't any treatment that seemed to make a difference.
"We went on to see psychiatrists, psychologists. He was on medication and they basically said 'Mrs. Cottle, this is who Matthew is now and it’s okay.'"
Except it wasn't okay with this mother and her fight continued.
"Something’s got to give, someone’s got to be able to figure out something and I finally came about hyperbaric through both online research and a teenager in Pittsburgh who went through a similar circumstance," Cottle explained.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves breathing 100% oxygen at atmospheric pressure.
It's a therapy that former Virginia Beach Police Officer Ted Marriner hopes will give him his life back after a drunk driver hit him nine years ago.
Read more about Marriner's story here:
At first, De'Angelo was hesitant to try to therapy.
"I thought it was odd. I thought it was weird," he recalls.
However, the immediate results quickly changed his tune.
"That was probably the most immediate change and the most visible. I was able to speak a lot more clearly, my thoughts were processing the way I wanted them to," De'Angelo explained.
"From the time he started to the time he walked out that door, he was speaking fluently, he was more interactive, he was more at peace with himself," Cottle added.
DeAnegelo has now gone from being unable to sit through a class or write a paper to earning As and Bs while earning a degree in environmental science at Virginia Tech.
Cottle has a message for others who may be going through the same experiences her family endured.
"There’s something here for them. To treat them, to cure them and I just want people to know about it."