Olathe senior who suffered brain injury in football game shows signs of improvement

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- An Olathe couple thanked the community Friday for all of its support after their son suffered a brain injury during a high school football game.

Olathe East Senior James McGinnis has been in intensive care at Overland Park Regional Medical Center since collapsing on the football field two weeks ago during a game with Olathe South.

But every day he continues to improve. So much so that McGinnis is expected to leave intensive care Monday to travel to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., which specializes in brain injury rehab. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy there could last months, but his parents say their son continues to show encouraging signs that he will make a full recovery.

"The first moment was probably the 'I love you' sign," said Susan McGinnis, James' mother. "There had been little signs before that. For Pat and I, that was a huge leap because we're sitting there, we're looking at him, he's looking at us. We said, 'We love you James.' It was like, 'Good Morning.' All of the sudden his hand started to move and he started to make this sign and we're like, 'Oh my gosh, you are telling us you love us!' Then it was a very definite sign. We were like 'Yes! Yes!'"

James also will receive tutoring while going through rehab, so that he can graduate in May with his senior class. His mom calls that a realistic goal. Although he's not speaking yet, his parents say they don't regret James playing football. They say the positive attitude and determination he learned from sports will help him in his recovery.

"When we first got here it was one day at a time," said Patrick McGinnis, James' father. "Now we're actually being able to plan for rehab and we're really excited about that. That's one of the reasons we want to come out and really thank the community for their thoughts and prayers, what they did to help us get through this."

James will never play football again, but his parents say he loves working with kids, and it wouldn't surprise them if, after he recovers, he goes on to coach kids in sports.