Reality of a concussion injury is serious

Maddie Root, Editor-in-Chief

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, two out of 10 high school athletes who engage in contact sports will receive a concussion this year. Additionally, girls soccer contributes to the second highest number of concussions of all high school sports. At the beginning of this school year, I became one of these statistics.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head in which the brain moves back and forth. Although concussions are extremely common in sports, they are not something to take lightly.

Some believe that concussions are an idle injury and require little to no recovery time. This may be true in some situations, but most concussions take longer—weeks or months—to properly heal. While a concussed individual may appear perfectly healed on the outside, things may not be quite right on the inside.

In the past, concussions have not been taken very seriously. We hear so many stories of how our parents or other adult figures played sports through head injuries and never consulted a doctor.

They tell us, “Well, I turned out just fine!”

The reality is that times have changed. Important and new data has emerged about concussions in the past few years.

A University of California San Francisco study of 300,000 people found that just one concussion was related to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Another study conducted by Harvard Medical School of 3,500 ex-NFL athletes found that players who received concussions had a higher risk of prolonged cognitive issues like anxiety and depression.

When I received my concussion in September, I was expecting to recover from my injury in just a few weeks. I was eager to return for my final season of high school soccer. However, no matter how much I rested, my symptoms would not subside. Soon, I realized I would never step on the JC turf to play soccer again. I was crushed.

As the months went by, my headaches constantly interfered with my day-to-day life. Homework took twice as long to finish. I couldn’t attend soccer practice to watch my team. My social life suffered. Every day was the same: go to school, get a headache by fifth mod, come home and rest, try and do homework, get distracted, stress, finish homework, work on college essays… It was a vicious cycle.

On February 27, almost six months since I received my concussion, I was finally cleared to play contact sports again. It has been a long and frustrating journey to get where I am today, and yet, I am so thankful for it.

I used to believe that concussions were harmless and easy injuries. My experience with this injury has totally proven me wrong. Now that I am more educated on the subject, I aim to share my knowledge.

I am glad that concussion protocol is being taken more seriously. The CDC recommends that if a high school athlete experiences any symptoms of a concussion after a blow to the head, that athlete must immediately be removed from the game/activity.

A repeat concussion caused by returning from sports too soon can slow the process of recovery and cause damage to mental and cognitive health. In extremely rare situations, a repeat concussion can even cause death.

If you are struggling with a concussion, understand that the road to full recovery may take longer than expected. It’s perfectly normal. Do not try to return to your sport or activity if symptoms get much worse with activity. The long-term effects of returning to activities too early are not worth it.