Concussions Don’t Just Affect Play & Why This Is Important To Me

Guest Post:  Shannon Henrici
A concussion can have a long-lasting impact on how a person functions: “Their memory, concentration, headaches, how they perceive light and sound, mood swings, sleep patterns – there’s a lot of influence to what can happen with a concussion,” said my daughter’s pediatrician.
“But I think what people don’t understand,” she added, “is that while you want to reduce stress on the brain, like by not playing sports or, you also want to reduce the cognitive strain on the brain. And so modifying school work and changing your studying habits and your testing schedule and things like that are also very important for the brain to recover. “
I never had anyone mention how a concussion could affect my child at school. So that made me feel pretty nervous.
My daughter Gabriela got a concussion playing lacrosse. Let me correct that. She sustained a third concussion while playing lacrosse. The first one was playing soccer when she was 9 and the second was playing basketball when she was 11 year old. So now at 14, we were on concussion number 3. But this time it was different.
As an A-student and star athlete, Gabriela is used to hard work. However, after she sustained this third concussion her freshman year in high school she was really struggling in school. For nearly two months, she needed frequent breaks to make it through the school day. She would also go to the school clinic and rest when she was overcome by headaches from the lights and noise of the classroom. Because her concussion symptoms continued for months, her doctor’s instructions were ultimately made into a temporary 504 plan.
While it took the help of her doctor and her teachers, Gabriela made a full recovery after 4 months. As a mom, I want everyone to know that concussions can affect your child in the classroom and that when they return to school after a concussion they may need to:
• Take rest breaks as needed,
• Spend fewer hours at school,
• Be given more time to take tests or complete assignments,
• Receive help with schoolwork, and/or
• Spend less time on the computer, reading, or writing.
While most athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some athletes, like my daughter, will experience symptoms that last for weeks or even months. I encourage all school professionals and parents to learn more about concussion symptoms and the accommodations that can be made to help students recover and return to score in the classroom, as well as on the sports field.
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Way back when in 1986 my dad bought us kids a new scooter.  Not a small one mind you, a big one like a motorcycle.  I being the oldest at 16, wanted to take it for a test ride.  On my way back and to turn into the drive way the handle bars came off.  There was simply nothing for me to hold on to or to do.  Of course I wasn’t wearing a helmet I was just going up the road and right back.
I crashed going a little over 25 mph and hit the asphalt.  I remember hearing my brother scream “Look What You Did To The Scooter!”  And his friends say “Bobb, I really think she’s hurt.”  The rest is a little fuzzy, my parents took me to the ER and my mom kept yelling at me, “Don’t close your eyes!  Don’t go to sleep!”
I was in shock and it took 2 doctors and 2 nurses to hold me down to give me a shot in the ER.    I had road rash on my face, arms, and back.  I was pathetic looking.  There was a bump on my head that I could see, but it continued to get worse as the days went by.  I hallucinated.  The whites of my eyes were bloody for months.  I had band concerts to perform at and we were taking tops at the state level and playing the trumpet killed my head and hurt my eyes.
Today my scars are pretty much gone.  There is still a spot on my head where I hit that feels watery at times and is scarred, and I have constant migraines.
My message to kids and parents?  NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU ARE GOING.  NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE DOING SKIING, GO CARTS, OR SCOOTERS WEAR A HELMET!

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