Get Ahead of the Game

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Take care of your cranium.

How to spot a concussion...
- One pupil larger than the other
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up
- Headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Slurred speech, numbness, weakness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Unusual behavior, confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness (even if brief) 

What is a concussion?
- A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury- or TBI- caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

What should I do if I think I have a concussion?
1. REPORT IT. Tell your coach and parent if you think you may have a concussion. You won't play best if you are not feeling well, and playing with a concussion is dangerous.

2. GET CHECKED OUT BY A DOCTOR. If you think you may have a concussion, do not return to play on the day of the injury. Only a doctor or other health care provider can tell if you have a concussion and when it's OK to return to school and play.

3. GIVE YOUR BRAIN TIME TO HEAL. Most athletes with a concussion get better within a couple of weeks. For some, a concussion can make everyday activities, such as going to school, harder. You may need extra help getting back to your normal activities. Be sure to update your parents and doctor about how you are feeling. 

What should I say to my parents and coaches about my symptoms? 
A concussion feels different to each person, so it's important to tell your parents and doctors exactly how you feel. You might notice concussion symptoms right away, but sometimes it takes hours or days until you notice that something isn't right. 

My Story...          

February 3rd 2015, was just like any other night.  I was attending class at my dance studio.  During my lyrical class, I was suddenly kicked in the head between my eyes. Instead of stopping, I kept dancing.  Little did I know this kick would change me forever.  

Luckily, this occurred at the end of the night.  Walking to the car was like any other evening, but when I sat down everything hit me.  My vision went blurry, I was light and noise sensitive, I had a severe headache and nausea.  Suddenly, I became hysterical.  When I got out of the car I almost tripped.  My balance was off.

My mom took one look at me and knew something was wrong. After grabbing my dad, we went straight to the hospital. It was a really hectic night in the E.R., so the doctors didn't pay much attention to me. They downplayed my head injury, gave me some ibuprofen and sent me on my way. They never said anything about a concussion.

I didn't do my homework that night, which was really odd of me because I always do my homework.  At school the next day, the teacher didn't believe I had a concussion until I started hysterically crying, understandably so.  The doctor gave me no note of restriction for anything because apparently I didn't have a concussion. 

My symptoms began to get worse.  It hurt to try to read and concentrate.  I went home early from school and went to my pediatric doctor.  The doctor ran some tests and immediately knew I was concussed.  He ordered me to stay in my dark room for a whole week.  I wasn't allowed to think, watch tv, use my phone or go outside without sunglasses.  I simply played with play dough.  I couldn't even talk to people.  After that week, I began weekly check ups with my doctor. He sent me to vestibular therapy so my symptoms would decrease. 

After a few more weeks my symptoms worsened.  Nothing was resolved.  The doctor ordered that I could finally go back to school, but only for 3 hours a day.  While I was there I wasn't allowed to read and write.  I needed many accommodations.  My teachers and coaches wanted me back to myself and didn't know what to do to help me.  Due to this, my parents scheduled a meeting with my principal and discussed a protocol.  My teachers understood, but they were doubtful that I would graduate 8th grade at the time everyone else was graduating.  

We realized that it was time for a second opinion.  We went to Rothman's concussion center where they diagnosed that all my symptoms pointed to an ocular concussion. They sent me to a neurologist and an ophthalmologist.  The neurologist said that it was a normal concussion and that I just needed to relax.  The ophthalmologist ran tests and verified what Rothman had told me.  Therefore, I needed to begin ocular therapy 2 times a week and also start balance therapy.  It was a 12 week program.  

Within 3 weeks of therapy my headaches started to clear up.  Few months passed, and I was almost symptom free while going to three different therapies a week.  I graduated 8th grade on time with honors.  By the summer time I was cleared to dance again. Dancing was extremely difficult, especially because I had gained so much weight, my balance was altered, I lost my flexibility, and I got dizzy very often. I worked through all of those issues with my dance teachers accommodating me, and was soon on my way to our national competition with the rest of my competition team.

 Despite me being a klutz and hitting my head a few more times, (which prolonged my recovery to a minor extent) after seven full months, I was cleared by all of my doctors and therapists. It was a long and difficult journey, but I am QUITE happy with the destination. This injury proved that I can certainly overcome any obstacles that approach me, as long as I strive to improve myself and stay hopeful. It is for these reasons of unawareness, that I began my platform of "Get Ahead of the Game: Concussion Awareness." Today, a whole year later, I am participating in events to raise money for concussion research, I am educating my peers about the dangers of a concussion, and overall bringing awareness to this critical cause so other people know right away what to do if they develop symptoms of a concussion; and don't have to experience what I have gone through. I believe by doing these things, we can decrease the harmful, long-lasting, even fatal effects of a traumatic brain injury, and simply make this world a safer place.