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Nov 13, 2011

Concussion's are a big deal...one mothers journey

FYI Update
2-10-202 TJ has "Post concussive syndrome" not SIS, Im not changing the post

On Oct 5th TJ suffered a double concussion during football practice. Below is my account of the 1st three weeks 

He suffered from horrible headaches, dizziness, confusion, fuzzy peripheral and short term memory loss. He was unable to attend school, so he was provided a home tutor by the school paid for by the state
I'm going to try to summarize the last the last 21 days out of 39 and counting and then keep a current journal here.
I am not a medical professional, this is only my story of my sons injury. Every concussion is different, no 2 are the same. Please check with your own doctor as I am not giving medical advice.
The Neurologist says TJ suffered a double concussion in a 10 min span. What makes concussions so dangerous is when you suffer a 2nd blow before the 1st one has healed 100%. There has been so much news about the damage football players have due to getting hit and jumping back into action before they are healed
(all sports are included, Im just going with my personal experience-football)

NFL coming to grips with concussions

Similar to professional boxers, long-time NFL players are at risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, due to continually sustaining brain trauma. The NFL began issuing guidelines concerning concussions in 2007, according to Bloomberg, but many former players protest that the league doesn’t do enough to assist those with the most debilitating injuries.
In 2010, the NFL admitted that concussions put former players at risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, memory loss, dementia and other neurological symptoms. Former professional football players are especially at risk for developing mild cognitive impairment, commonly referred to as MCI. MCI is a common precursor to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2008 survey by the NFL of former players over the age of 50 included surveys for their spouses to complete. Of those who responded, it was noted that 35 percent had some form of cognitive impairment.
' August 19, 2011  Newsytype.com'

It was most likely TJ's second blow that put him over.

A recap:
 Wed,10-5-2011 TJ plays wide receiver for his sophomore high school football team. During a routine after school practice, TJ was slammed from behind, a helmet to helmet hit. TJ slammed to the ground and remembers everything going to a dream like state. He remembers people asking if he was okay. Although shaky and confused TJ got up and continued to play. About 10 minutes later TJ was running with the ball and hit full force helmet to helmet (front to front) tripped and slammed his head to the ground again. All in all it was 2 brutal helmet hits and 2 head hits to the ground. TJ again remembers getting up all confused and kinda hiding in the back of the pack dazed. It is believed he did not lose consciousness.

Why didn't the coaches pull him out, I don't know. TJ was clearly too impaired to make any judgments after the initial blow

My girlfriend drove TJ home and commented to me that 'he just didn't looked right'. I was getting take out with Tim when TJ called me, I immediately knew something was wrong. His speech was off almost like he was stoned
 "mom, I think I have a concussion"
TJ's eyes were red and glossy, he had funny colored circles under each eye and he was dazed. We watched him closely and he went to bed as usual.

The next morning 
10-6-2011 TJ woke up, took some Advil and got dressed for school. After school he went to football practice. I had text the coach about what was going on and said I wanted TJ to see the trainer and have the IMPACT test. TJ saw the trainer, was not given the test, but was told to sit out and watch the practice (which means stand and watch). I don't know if the head coach relayed my message or if they wait to do the impact test when all signs and symptoms are gone. TJ was an absolute wreck when he came home from practice and I had to make a "mom" decision to pull him from "standing on the sidelines to watch a 2 1/2 hr practice which is strongly encouraged" TJ kept telling me "Mom, make sure you tell all the coaches that this is your decision, not mine"  I'm sure the coaches were pissed, as to this day (day 39) not one has called or reached out to us. The trainer and Athletic coordinator have called

TJ's reaction shows me kids are still considered "a sissy" or not a true football player if they don't jump back into battle. TFB (too fucking bad) is my thought...parents are the only true advocate for their children. Coaches do not always have the best interests of the child in mind 

Fri, 10-7-2100- I got an emergency appointment with the pediatrician who ordered a STAT CT with STAT results. CT was normal
That day I realized that TJ had short term memory loss when he called me and asked me a question that we had gone over 2 hrs prior ( did I tell his coach and how were we getting to the game that evening)
TJ wanted to watch that night game in West Chicago. The last thing I wanted was TJ on the bus being banged around so I drove him and stayed with him, as I had already lost faith in the coaches to take care of my son. ( I get that they would be busy with the game) The trainer did come talk to me and TJ didn't tell him how bad it was when he saw him. He til this day is on my good list. He has called the home to check on TJ and quickly returns my calls. I was afraid for TJ standing on the sidelines...I had him stand further back. I don't believe he had the reflex ability to move if someone was tackled on the sidelines.We had to leave the game early as TJ got a severe headache and extremely dizzy.
The next 2 weeks TJ did not attend school. His signs and symptoms just got worse.
  1. severe headaches
  2. dizziness
  3. nausea
  4. blurred peripheral vision 
  5. short term memory
  6. confusion
  7. extreme light sensitivity
  8. extreme sensitivity to movement around him

In the mean time TJ's school counselor set up a home tutor and put a plan of action in place. She has been incredible! Keeping all teachers in the loop and providing everything possible to accommodate TJ. TJ's tutor came every morning at 9am...the 1st session was only 20 min as TJ's brain couldn't handle it. Headaches set in and words jumped around. Hank, the tutor has a lot of experience with kids and concussions. He recommended Marionjoy for rehab. 

Tue, 10-25-2011-The Neurologist came in a hour early to see TJ  (he was booked a month out) due to the severity of the injury. I really liked the doctor he put TJ on Amitriptyline now used to treat migraines and concussions. I was told to schedule an MRI with contrast. The doc agreed with sending TJ to Marionjoy for a Neuro-psych evaluation. The MRI was negative

next up: TJ has become a prisoner of his room 
Marionjoy Rehab


Cindi M said...

You read about it but to know someone who is going through it makes it seem more "real". What you are doing by posting this is doing such a service to those who don't know enough about concussions to be an advocate for their child. I respect that this is strictly an account of your experience and not a bashing of a sport or the coaches (although their lack of contact is disappointing - odds are that the school has asked that they allow the Athletic Director be the voice of the school to avoid any possible lawsuits, etc. I get it, as wrong as it is.) I continue to pray for your son's full recovery and for you - as a mother dealing with this.

Mike Feeley said...

There is now a way to help reduce the chances of concussions in football practice. If you son plays football and you worry that the coach isn't prepared to recognize and treat concussions, buy your son a Guardian for his helmet. This device reduces the impact of helmet to helmet collisions. www.guardiancaps.com

Mike Feeley - I work at Guardian Caps, but I work there to help kids stay healthy while playing the game they love.