Alakai Mashima, a 2017 Punahou School grad, played defensive back for the Buff ‘n Blues…
It was February 14, 2021, when big wave pro surfer, Mikey O’Shaughnessy, suffered a massive traumatic brain injury. He had paddled out at one of Hawaii’s most famous surf spots, Pipeline. After catching a wave, O’Shaughnessy endured a brutal wipeout, plunging head-first into the shallow reef. He was safety-conscious and wore a helmet, but it wasn’t enough. Direct impact to his head caused him to lose consciousness while still in the water. Fortunately, the North Shore lifeguards and fellow pro surfers, Billy Kemper and Koa Rothman, witnessed his wipeout and came to his rescue. The helmet was completely blown open and cracked by his temples.
There were no lasting injuries to his body, but his brain was a different story. In a way, O’Shaughnessy was still stuck in the undertow: he began experiencing headaches, dizziness, mental fog, depression and anxiety. O’Shaughnessy did what people with similar symptoms often do: he tried to behave normally – as if nothing was wrong. He tried medication, but it only made things worse. Under the surface of his outward, positive demeanor, O’Shaughnessy was fighting to stay afloat. His injury was causing him to plunge into darkness and rage. He knew he needed to try a different tack. Members of the surf community introduced him to Dr. Jason Keifer of Brain Health Hawaii, and, in April 2021, O’Shaughnessy’s journey back to the surface finally began.
O’Shaughnessy had lost brainwave connections from the concussion he suffered in the brutal wipeout. Dr. Keifer worked with him on a personalized treatment plan and began daily treatment with gentle, safe brain stimulation. As the brainwave connections were restored, O’Shaughnessy felt the fogginess and darkness begin to fall away. Clarity, focus and calmness resurfaced.
After his successful treatments with Dr. Keifer and Brain Health Hawaii, O’Shaughnessy is once more spreading aloha to everyone he meets. Originally from the Big Island, O’Shaughnessy has a history of giving back to the Hawaii ohana by volunteering his time with autistic children and in the community. Now, he also uses the story of his recovery to inspire and guide those in similar situations.
For O’Shaughnessy, it is important for people in pain to know that there is an avenue to wholeness that doesn’t include drugs or their harmful side effects. He knows what it’s like to be caught in the undertow; foggy, disconnected, in pain. But he also knows what brain restoration can do. It can help people get back to who they are and the things they love to do. For O’Shaughnessy, that means spreading aloha and charging those big waves.