By Will Bodendorfer,
In the past, NFL faced a rash of lawsuits from former players and the NFL Player’s Association, suing the league for its management of concussion protocol.
Concussions are not only a problem in professional sports, they are also a problem at the high school level as well. While all injuries suffered in high school sports are unfortunate, Davis High student athletes suffering from concussions might have it the worst.
“At first your head feels like it’s getting smashed by a car,” sophomore Mike Goodison said when describing what his head felt like during his football game injury.
“If it is severe enough, the pain never completely goes away, and normal headaches are about 20 times worse. It’s like a constant high of extreme head pain,” Goodison said.
Almost all high school athletes are at risk of receiving a concussion, not just those who play contact sports. According to a study by the Assessment and Management of Sport-Related Concussions in United States High Schools, athletes that participate in cheer leading are almost as likely to get a concussion as athletes that play basketball, soccer or baseball.
What exactly happens during a concussion?
“A concussion results in some level of brain dysfunction as a result of the trauma. The symptoms can range from as little as mild dizziness, seeing spots and feeling a bit disoriented to frank loss of consciousness with severe long term brain injury,” Dr. Eric Hassid, a neurologist at Northbay Healthcare, said.
This change in brain function can make returning to everyday routines very hard, especially for students that feel the constant pressure of homework and tests.
“When I returned I was really behind, and the tests were hard since I didn’t know the subject,” sophomore Andrew Pilon said.
Dr. Dawn Levine explains some of the precautions that must be taken for students returning from concussion.
“Students feel a lot of pressure to catch up on the homework and the hope is that students will be allowed to show mastery of material in various ways versus making up every assignment. Students returning too soon or trying to do much often will develop headaches or extreme fatigue,” Levine said.
Sophomore Heather Huston said that although she did not miss any school, her grades were still affected for quite a long time following her concussion.
“Teachers always say they are going to give you time to make up the work, but they don’t really do it,” Huston said. “For a few weeks I just sat there because it would hurt to focus. Then once I got better, I had all of this work to make up.”
To make matters worse, recently concussed students not only have to be eased back into their schoolwork, but also their social lives.
“I had to stay home when my friends went out due to barely being able to get out of bed for weeks after the incident and once I was able to actually get out more, I would have to leave earlier because I’d start to get migraines,” junior cheerleader Lauren Hupe said.
The treatment for concussions is also a long, tedious process.
“In the initial phases when kids are experiencing a lot of symptoms, we ask that they stay home and do nothing (no texting, video games, attending at school events, going to the movies, driving, etc). After that initial phase, we advise doing quiet activities if they are still fairly symptomatic. Once they can tolerate doing some homework and are attending at least part day school, then we can add back in some activity,” Levine said.
And while it may seem that everything goes back to normal a couple weeks after the concussion, Hassid points out that is not always the case.
“Since the teenage brain is still developing, multiple concussions at a young age can hinder that development,” Hassid said.
This can result in mood disorders, poor attention, short term memory loss and reduced IQ, all of which are serious conditions. Hupe, who suffered her concussion this year, says her injury still affects her.
Many people that don’t believe that [concussions have long term affects]. But it’s true. Since I’ve been cleared to go back to cheer and school, it doesn’t mean I’m done fighting this battle. Writing in English, I worry if my paragraphs even make sense. In History, I’ll do the wrong questions assigned simply because I wrote the wrong page number down. I go home and take a nap for at least 2 hours everyday before going to afternoon activities,” Hupe said. “Concussions are rough, but I’m getting through it.”