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3 Weeks After Severe Brain Injury, Prep Football Player Still Recovering

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Dassel-Cokato teenager is in stable condition at the hospital but having some complications as he recovers from suffering a brain injury on the field that almost killed him.

"It was three weeks ago tomorrow that Luke was injured -- we've had a lot of highs and a lot of lows," mother Sara Nelson said.

Luke Nelson began throwing up and having seizures after trying to make a tackle during a football game on Sept. 6.

He was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center where he had two major surgeries.

"His energy level is very low, but he still remains positive," Sara said. "He's still working hard."

Hard work is nothing new for Luke. The 16-year-old hustled to become a middle linebacker for Dassel-Cokato. But in a game against Orono, he went from being a football player to fighting for his life.

"There's nothing definite on the length of recovery," Sara said. "I think everything with brain injuries is very different depending on the person and the individual."

In Luke's case, he stayed on the field for several more plays before he collapsed and started having a seizure. At Hennepin County Medical Center, doctors removed the right side of his skull. To their surprise, the swelling in his brain subsided quickly. And 12 days later his skull was re-attached.

"That was almost a miracle to be able to do it that quickly," Sara said.

On Sunday, the day before his sister's 11th birthday, Luke returned home before going back to the hospital Thursday night.

Luke is battling a fever and an infection and wasn't feeling well enough to talk with WCCO. But the community is letting him know they're there for him.

"The support has been just overwhelming -- it really has," said father Luke.

The word "SwoleStrong," a play off Luke's Twitter handle, can be found on bracelets and is seemingly everywhere. The school and the Cokato Dairy Queen have already held benefits for Luke. Even rival towns like Fairmont are showing Luke and his family how much they care.

"Fairmont was just incredible," Greg said. "They had his number painted on the field and it was really cool."

The family is asking for prayers during this trying time.

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