BY: Austin Hilliker, ’15
“You have a concussion” is the most feared statement an athlete can hear from a doctor. The diagnosis can result in the end of a lifelong dedication to a career that an athlete has an intense passion for.
If an athlete endures a concussion, it means that this person’s brain has participated in rapid movement, where the brain has made forceful contact with their inner skull (Sports Concussion Institute). This can cause damage to the neural pathways inside the brain, which in turn lead to neurological disruptions skull (Sports Concussion Institute). Symptoms include physical, emotional and cognitive complications (Sports Concussion Institute).
“No one really wants to hear those words,” senior Derek Kaufman said. “Athletes don’t want to report having a concussion because of the social pressure they might endure. Athletes feel they will be looked down upon by their peers as being weak”.
The “Unwritten Rule” of never mentioning the word concussion is far too common amongst athletes. The general notion a young kid has on a professional athlete is that they are Superman. When they hear of their favorite player continuing to play through a concussion, without mentioning it to the training staff, they want to consequently do the same. Unless an athlete visibly shows signs of their eyes being dilated, becoming unbalanced, or more severely going into an unconscious state, the medical personnel cannot tell.
Head athletic trainer at Pacific Lutheran University, Aaron Gunther said, “Unless an athlete is obviously having difficulty, we have to rely on their friends, coaches, or professors to let us know because they are around the athlete longer on a daily basis.”
Sophomore PLU football player Derek Chase, felt it might be better to toughen it out, and unfortunately paid the price. Two weeks ago, Chase collapsed during practice, where he was carted off the field to the athletic training room. Regarding the incident, Chase said his head felt like it had exploded.
“I hit a guy against Linfield where my head hit his thigh,” Chase said, “I had a constant headache for a week and a half, but thought nothing of it. At the end of practice, we were just running around and my head exploded with a splitting headache.”
Doctors told Chase that he might have received a concussion due to impact from the Linfield running back. Chase also mentioned that he really thought nothing of the hit and instead continued to play. The Lutes football player will now have to miss the rest of the off-season and possibly the start of next years season, after doctors said they found a hematoma inside his brain.
The brutal reality of this is when an athlete does not speak up it makes for an even worse outcome in most cases. After receiving one concussion, it is much easier to be diagnosed with the second, third and so on. This is the same for recovery time as well. The first rehab sessions may be quick, but as more brain traumas are added into the equation, it becomes more difficult for an athlete to come back and participate in their desired sport. At that point, the worry then turns to the athlete’s future, where there is an uncertainty of what life will be like down the road.
If you have a concussion, report it, it’s just not worth the risk.