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Teen Credits Concussion With Giving Him His Musical Talents

DENVER (CBS4) - Several of the music ensembles at Kent Denver High School are impressive, but the story behind a young pianist in one them is truly amazing.

Lachlan Connors is a junior at the private high school and loves music more than anything.

"Music is the thing that gets me up in the morning," the Englewood resident told CBS4.

When he was younger it was clear Connors didn't have of a knack for music. At all.

"He really had no talent," his mother Elsie Hamilton said. "I would say 'Can't you hear what's next?' with something like 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' or 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' and he'd say 'No.' "

Connors' first passion was sports.

"I thought I might become a professional lacrosse player," he said.

But things changed when Connors was in sixth grade and he sustained a concussion while playing on his recreational lacrosse team.

"I fell backwards and hit the back of my head on the ground," he told CBS4. "I remember getting up and feeling really dazed. I didn't really understand something bad had happened."

Connors began exhibiting some concerning behaviors, but his parents took him to a doctor and they gave him the okay to return to the field.

Another hard hit or two -- possibly concussions -- then sent Connors to the hospital for weeks, and epileptic seizures followed.

"He started to hallucinate and had these mini hallucinations," Hamilton said.

When Lachlan got out of the hospital, doctors said he shouldn't play contact sports anymore. That was a heartbreaker for Connors, but in the wake of that disappointment Connors found that he suddenly could play music almost effortlessly.

Connors can now play "roughly 10 to 13 instruments." That includes piano, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, karimba and bagpipes -- both Scottish and Irish ones.

"When Lachlan plays it's absolutely beautiful," his mom said.

Dr. Spyridon Papadopoulos told CBS4 it's as if those concussions turned on a new part of Connors' brain.

"This was not a small injury for him," Papadopoulos said.

"The thought is just a theory -- that this was a talent laying latent in his brain and somehow was uncovered by his brain rewiring after the injury. Clearly something happened in his brain and his brain had to recover from injury and change happened. And change may have uncovered this ability no one knew he had."

CBS4's Suzanne McCarroll asked Connors what he thinks happened in his brain.

"I honestly think something got rewired. Something just changed, and thank God it did," he said.

Connors plays music solely by ear. He can't read music (although his mother is encouraging him to learn). And although he no longer has epileptic seizures, he finds comfort knowing his seizures were the same, rare sort experienced by composer Frédéric Chopin.

No one can say with absolute certainty that Connors' medical problems led to his musical prowess, but Connors is incredibly grateful for a gift he hopes will now stay with him for life.

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