George Visger’s Story

George Visger

George Visger

Thirty two years ago last September my life was rolling. I was 22 years old and in my second season playing Defensive Tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. During the prior 1980 season, my rookie year,

I had suffered a major concussion in the first quarter of a Dallas Cowboy game. I was kept on the field by use of numerous smelling salts during the game. I never missed a play or practice.

Early in the following 1981 Super Bowl season, several weeks after my first knee surgery, I began experiencing nightly major headaches, projectile vomiting, a ball of light in front of each eye and intermittent loss of hearing with each beat of my heart. The team doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure and prescribed diuretics. Seventeen days later, while suffering my usual nightly symptoms, I experienced focal point paralysis of my right arm when it curled up across my chest with no feeling. The next morning in the locker room, the team doctor diagnosed me with a brain hemorrhage. He directed me to go home, lie down, and drive myself to Stanford Hospital that afternoon. I did and underwent emergency VP shunt brain surgery that evening. After 14 days in intensive care I returned to the 49ers and worked out the rest of the season on Injured Reserve planning on playing the following season.

Four months after our Super Bowl XVI win, my shunt failed while fishing in Mexico with my brother. He had trouble convincing the airlines I could fly, and a day and a half later brought me home in a partial coma. I immediately underwent VP shunt brain surgery. Ten hours later that shunt failed, I went into a coma, underwent my 3rd shunt surgery in 9 months and was given last rites. I was also given the hospital bills, and began a several year legal battle with the 49ers for Workers Comp for payment of my hospital bills. During my legal battle, I underwent two additional knee surgeries in 1984, including an experimental Gore Tex ACL transplant to repair the damage they neglected to repair properly in 1981.

In 1984 I won my Workers Comp case, returned to school to complete my Biology degree in 1986. During a 10 month period in 1987 – 88, I survived 5 additional emergency VP shunt brain surgeries and several gran mal seizures. All while taking Organic Chemistry, Physics and Pre-Calc courses. I was in Organic Chemistry 3 times when my shunt failed, underwent emergency shunt surgery and was forced to drop out of school. I returned to Organic Chem two days after my 6th brain surgery and suffered a 50 minute gran mal seizure sitting in class. I was forced to drop out again.

In 1990 I finally graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Conservation at age 32 and began my career as a Wildlife Biologist. In 1995 I underwent my 9th VP shunt brain surgery, and launched Visger & Associates Environmental Consulting in 2003.

Sue Rueb contacted me in 2009, just as I was starting The Visger Group Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting ( The Visger Group immediately aligned ourselves with B.R.A.I.N. ( ) and I thank God I did. Due to my short term memory issues and cognitive impairment, I moved to Southern California in August of 2013, to get treatment at B.R.A.I.N. Sue Rueb and Joan Jensen of B.R.A.I.N. have literally opened their homes to me, provided me with an office, and helped me enroll in several of the neuro recovery classes they offer at B.R.A.I.N. This is the first and only neuro-cognitive recovery treatments I have received in 32 years of living with a TBI. I am currently attending weekly neuro-cognitive therapy, Yoga, Cooking With Colt classes and the incredible FB.I. (Friends of Brain Injury) potluck meetings every Tuesday night.

The F.B.I. meeting is the most incredible Brain Injury recovery program, or program of any kind I have ever been personally involved in. Or have ever heard of for that matter. Inspirational, educational, informative, and a kick in the pants. I have, without a doubt, met the greatest, most courageous, inspirational people on the face of this earth at F.B.I.

My football career allowed me to have played with and against some of the greatest players in the history of the NFL, including team mates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott and against NFL Hall of Fame players like Walter Payton and Rodger Staubach. None of them hold a candle to the great champions and winners at B.R.A.I.N.

I thank all of you for what you have taught me and given to me. You all inspire me. God Bless my B.R.A.I.N. team mates.

George Visger




One Comment

  1. Dear George, I’m glad to read how well you are doing! I met you at American River College and also my son(White Hawk) and me walked with you for brain injured people. You signed a football for a boy at my sons school who was DX with cancer two years ago. Well, just making a boy smile can bring hope!! That boy is in remission. I had the whole left temporal lobe of my brain removed going on five years now(and no I still haven’t found it yet). Stay strong my friend. AKA: Native American Brother If you’re ever back in Sacramento again please look us up; you always have a place to stay. Sincerely, Andrea Lynn and White Hawk

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