A year after a wipeout nearly killed him, this pro surfer is back to taking on the big waves

Last February, surfer Mikey “Redd” O’Shaughnessy got a first-hand lesson in Pipeline’s power when he hit his head on the reef and was knocked unconscious.
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 5:05 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2022 at 5:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last February, big-wave surfer Mikey “Redd” O’Shaughnessy got a first-hand lesson in Pipeline’s power when he hit his head on the reef and had to be resuscitated on shore after being knocked unconscious.

He doesn’t remember much, but his helmet tells the story.

“You can see it’s pretty scratched up and there’s a nickel-sized indention with a crack and I would have probably had a skull fracture and all the scrapes would have been pretty gnarly,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Yet even with the helmet, the trauma was still intense.

“The weeks and days after the wipeout were pretty extreme with a lot of depression and sadness and anger and a lot of headaches, so things were pretty harsh and tough on me,” O’Shaughnessy said.

“Just barely hanging on to life it felt like and I didn’t understand any of it.”

Through friends, O’Shaughnessy discovered the Brain Health Hawaii clinic and its treatments that restore activity to the brain’s damaged regions.

“He was in pretty bad shape in terms of his mood and anxiety level,” said Dr. Jason Keifer, who led O’Shaughnessy’s treatment. “He clearly was suffering brain fog and headaches, having generally speaking a hard time processing information.”

But after an intense eight-week course of 80 treatments, O’Shaughnessy made a full recovery.

“I feel like after every week, I felt much better, more clear and after the first three weeks, it felt like a portal just cleared in my head and I was having a lot more focus and being able to carry on conversations and starting to feel normal again,” O’Shaughnessy said.

A year after the wipeout, O’Shaughnessy’s life is pretty much back to normal.

He started surfing again last fall and is now an alternate for the Eddie Aikau and Jaws big wave contests. He’s also once again a regular at Pipeline.

“It’s a spot that really gives and can also take everything away,” O’Shaughnessy said. “There’s just so much emotions and love and feelings for this place.”

When not competing, O’Shaughnessy is working with experts on helmets that can better absorb impact and reduce whiplash.

Ultimately, he wants his story to serve as a reminder of surfing safely ― where there’s a razor thin line between thrill and tragedy.

“Thankful for the recovery and all the lifeguards that saved my life and my friends,” O’Shaughnessy said. “The journey is continuing, so enjoying it all and thankful for it all. It’s been nuts.”

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