On Concussions: The Knockout Project

On Concussions: The Knockout Project

Knocking out the invisible injury, one story at a time.

Not all athletes are indestructible. Not all injuries require a cast, a brace, or some stitches. Not all battles are fought with visible scars. Not all healing is done at the doctor's office.

So what is a concussion?

According to the National Athletic Training Association (NATA), a concussion is defined as ‘‘a trauma induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness." In layman's terms, a concussion is a brain injury that occurs when a force is applied to the head, resulting in the brain "bouncing" off the skull. The consequences? Headaches, dizziness, poor balance, vomiting, temporary loss of consciousness; the intensity varies from nonexistent to severe. Because of the huge variability in causes, symptoms, medical opinions, rehabilitation protocols, and lasting effects, there's no one-size-fits-all concussion story. And this is exactly what Jay Fraga's The Knockout Project has aimed to bring to public awareness since 2012.

The Knockout Project in its entirety serves to tackle two underrepresented parts of the concussion equation: the lasting mental and emotional effects of concussions and the lack of consistency in concussion treatment among various healthcare providers. Through the stories of high school, collegiate, and professional athletes, the project's goal is to shed light on the dangers of concussions through first-hand accounts of what actually happens when concussion symptoms are ignored or improperly diagnosed. This inimitable point of view offers powerful evidence for the importance of proactive athletes and well-versed concussion literacy of both parents and medical professionals, an angle on concussions that was virtually unheard of until recent years. Fraga, a former BMX racer, says it best: "Sports aren't the problem. Ignorance is the problem."

To simply call any of the pieces of The Knockout Project "compelling" would be a severe understatement. The stories posted by athletes, mostly teens, are raw, honest, and unapologetic; they want readers to know that the consequences of concussions are very real. The website acts as a type of concussion support group, allowing users to share their stories and gain a sense of inclusion in a unique community setting. Round Table members (or, in the author's humble opinion, absolute warriors in their own right) are regular contributors to the Project, with their articles spanning the topics of second-impact syndrome, post-concussion syndrome, their struggles with anxiety and depression, and the future of concussion education.

Round Table member Madeline Uretsky of Simmons College had discovered The Knockout Project through googling concussion advocacy when she was in high school. Madeline has spoken about concussions to physicians and educators at the Pediatric Brain Injury Conference and Tufts University School of Medicine; she credits The Knockout Project for giving her "new friends and a new community of people who understand and accept me, and an avenue to tell my story." Roger Williams University's own Lindsey Santos found out about the Project through networking with Round Table member Alicia Jensen, expressing that being a part of a supportive community plays an important role in her daily life.

Some may find it surprising that The Knockout Project is pro-sport, but from an athlete's point of view it's not really surprising whatsoever. After all, athletes play for the love of sport; however now there is greater evidence that concussion awareness may just save somebody's life.

For those who have suffered concussions, there is hope. You aren't broken; you don't walk alone.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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5 'Ruff' Stages You And Your S.O. Go Through When You Get Your First Dog Together

From Scooping Poo to realizing you might love the dog more than you love him..

There's something different about the milestone "getting your first dog together." I'm not saying other milestones like buying a house or getting engaged isn't close to the very top of the list-because I'm sure to several it is.

But for me? Dogs are my weakness.

My boyfriend is my weakness.

So putting them both together is surreal, and I encourage anyone who is truly in love to get some type of animal (even if it isn't a dog) with your significant other. You learn what kind of responsibility they put into raising something they so desperately love.

You think you love this person all you're capable of loving them, then you see them giving all their love to something that is both of yours...together. It all becomes that much more special, and still to this day it is one of my greatest accomplishments.

I'm sure that will all change one day when I'm a mom or when I get married, but for right now I think I'll bask in the wonderfulness that is my dog and boyfriend.

Though it's a beautiful journey, it's a hectic one too. I believe this prepares you for what it will be like one day to have a family of your own, and even though it's exciting to get to go through some of the motions, it's tough, "ruff," and scary all at the same time.

1. You question whether or not you may actually love this dog more than your boyfriend

Boyfriend: "If me and Benjy were both drowning, AND YOU COULD ONLY SAVE ONE, who would you save?"

Me: "Well lucky for you Benjy is an excellent swimmer so..."

Boyfriend: "No...no that wasn't the question. We are both submerged underwater, WHO WOULD YOU SAVE?!"

Me: "What kind of freaking question is this? Why would you ever make me choose?"

2. The infamous "I took him out last time"

You took him out last time? Well, I cleaned up the shit that stuck to the bottom of my shoe two hours ago.


You took him out last time? Well, I picked up every piece of toilet paper from the hallway that he got out of the garbage, and every sock he took out of the hamper.




3. The "what's in your mouth?" game

I don't know why I feel like asking my boyfriend what our dog has in their mouth is actually going to get me anywhere because it never does.

Me: "Babe what does he have in his mouth?"

Boyfriend: "Benjy what do you have in your mouth?"

Me: "Do you really think asking Benjy is going to get us anywhere?"

Boyfriend: "Do you really think asking me is going to get anywhere?

Benjy: *Eats entire sock then shits it out later*

4. The first vet scare

The first time you have to take your baby to the vet (for something other than a check-up) is probably one of the scariest feelings in the world. It makes all the times you fought over who would take them outside or argued about what they were chewing (and why they were chewing it in the first place) irrelevant.

It's watching them shake as they go back to that room, and waiting not so patiently for what the vet has to say and if your baby will be okay.

To find out it was something minor that both you and your significant other worried about for no reason.

"Yes he did eat your bracelet, but give it a few days and it'll be right back out of him in no time."

At this point, neither of us care. We're just trying to hold back tears and get our baby back in our arms.

5. Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest and most difficult things you will have to do in your life is saying goodbye to a pet you love.

An even harder thing you'll have to do is say goodbye to a pet you love with someone you love. I think the difficult part is to imagine every stage of this dog's life you got to enjoy with your partner, and now it will continue with your partner, but potentially start with a new dog. It's weird to even have to come to terms with starting over, but telling each other that it's what your first fur-baby would have wanted helps a little.

Getting a dog with the love of your life will change it. It will make little things seem big, and smaller things look huge. The first time they go up and down stairs, to the first time they fall asleep on you with their belly facing up.

There are all these cute memories that you don't just watch alone—you watch with the person you love.

If we are this much in love, can you imagine what it'll be like when we have kids? God, I can't.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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March Madness Is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

From Upsets to Buzzer Beaters

March Madness. My favorite month of the year.

For those unaware, March Madness is the month long NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament. By March 31st, one team will be cutting down those nets and celebrating in the biggest party of the year.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved making a bracket. Choosing teams with the best jerseys or the coolest mascots was my strategy as a kid, but now I focus more on what upsets might happen.

The BEST part about March Madness is seeing what underdog team can pull out a win against a team destined for victory. March Madness is known for its upsets, buzzer beaters, and shocking wins. A team's high ranking might not mean anything more than an easier schedule, but lower ranked teams have time and time again come out to shock the #1 and #2 seeds.

As a Freshmen at Villanova University, I'm ecstatic for March. The Men's team recently won the Big East Championship and received that coveted automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. To make things even better, they are ranked #1 in the East Division--and projected to win the division. The Wildcats are hoping for 2018 to be there 3rd NCAA Division win, full of many more buzzer beaters.

With all that March has to offer, I'm excited to see the upsets and the buzzer beaters, and of course, how Villanova shapes out this year.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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