If you’ve ever played a sport, I’m sure you’ve heard about the “dangers of head injuries.” Usually it’s just a five-minute lecture from your coach instructing you to wear a helmet, mind your head, getting injuries checked out, etc. No one really pays attention and we move on with the practice or the game.
But then it happens to you. Somehow you find yourself sitting in the doctor’s office hearing the words every athlete dreads, “You have a concussion and you need to sit out until it’s healed.” So you go home and you whine to your mom and best friend about how unfair life is. And if you’re like most athletes you wait a couple days and hop back into practice regardless of whether the headaches, dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, tiredness, confusion and ringing in your ears is gone or not. Because to you missing a week of practice for a bump on the head isn’t worth it. Trust me, I’ve heard it and felt it all; you need to stay in shape, you have a competition, game or meet coming up, your coach just doesn’t understand. So you jump back into your routine and usually we can scrape by because we don’t get hit in the head again and the headaches eventually go away and your life returns to normal. Your concussion is a distant memory.
Concussions are more than that. While most people can just ignore them and it’s okay, if you get another concussion when you haven’t completely recovered from your past one you are risking permanent and very serious brain damage. Trust me, sitting out for a couple weeks even months of practices is better than the alternative. Because the alternative brain damage. And that means you might never play again. Your entire personality could change.
As athletes, as humans we are worth more than just our practice time. And I know that’s hard to imagine. As an athlete, especially a collegiate level athlete your sport becomes your life; you live and breathe practice, workouts, games, repeat. But we as people, we as students owe it to ourselves to take concussions seriously. A concussion is more than a bump to your head. It is literally your brain bouncing back and forth against your skull and swell. This swelling causes different parts of your brain to rub unevenly against each other which tears the axons in your brain apart and kills them. These axons are responsible for communication in your brain.
Every blow to the head, whether it has been diagnosed as a concussion or not has the potential to cause damage to your brain. By allowing your brain time to heal after any head injury you are allowing your brain to find news way to communicate by working around the damaged areas.
So as a fellow athlete I’m begging you to take concussions seriously, because you are worth it.