PLANO -- Walking down a hall is a potentially perilous act for Jiahone Guo, if he should trip.
Only sure steps - and a plastic helmet - protect his brain from damage.
About a quarter of Guo's skull was removed after an injury playing club soccer in October. The 25-year-old graduate student from China believes an opponent accidentally kneed him in the head when he was falling. Guo didn't know at the time his skull had been shattered.
"I finished the game -- it's amazing," Guo said. "After the game, I felt pain."
"The brain was swollen and basically pushing in from the right side to the left, crushing his brain stem," explained Dr. Rob Dickerman, the neurosurgeon who is treating Guo. "When he initially arrived, he was comatose."
Dickerman said removing a portion of the skull was the only way to save Guo's life.
"His brain was so swollen, that we could not put the skull - the bone - back on the brain," Dickerman said. "We basically had to close the scalp up over it."
Guo's family flew from the city of Jilin, China, to their son's side, not knowing if he would be alive when they arrived.
"They were very scared," says Guo, who admitted he thought he might die. "It's amazing because maybe I will go to see God. Maybe."
Two months later, with brain swelling gone, Guo returned to the operating room to have a prosthetic skull plate implanted. Dickerman said most young people with this sort of injury die, or suffer long-term brain damage.
"At the time of injury, I told the family it was a 50-50 chance of survival," Dickerman said.
"I didn't die," Guo said. "I can do anything -- I can drive, I can walk, I can think."
The shape of Guo's head will once again be normal and hair will eventually cover the large scar where he underwent brain surgery.
Because of the injury, he will never play soccer again. But Guo will be be able to continue his graduate studies in engineering, and enjoy life.