Once upon a time, in a land far away…
I played football.
Seriously! 10 years ago (Ten? It’s been TEN YEARS?!) I played for the Albany Ambush in the WPFL (Women’s Professional Football League) This wasn’t flag or powder puff. No, this was NFL rules, full contact, full pads, full tackle, broken bones and blood, football. I played Left Guard. A position that I was neither big enough, or strong enough to play. To be honest, I kind of sucked, but dang it was FUN.
It is an experience I’ll never forget.
Well, actually…I have forgotten some of it.
Because of two, back-to-back concussions.
During practice one evening, during some tackling drills, I got hit. Hard. It was a really great tackle, but my head hit the ground and bounced. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but I didn’t want to look like a wimp to my coaches and teammates, so I did something stupid. I got back up, and readied myself for the next hit.
My teammate made a perfect tackle. With my head still spinning from the earlier hit, I didn’t do anything. I just stood there. She came in low, hit me, my feet came up off the ground, and my head hit the ground first.
I took myself out of practice at this point. My ears were ringing, I was dizzy, I felt sick, and the scariest part? I was almost completely blind in my left eye.
Of course, I didn’t say anything about that. Because I was stupid and afraid of looking like I couldn’t hang with the rest of my team. My coaches were always on me for not pushing myself hard enough, I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t tough enough for the game. I sat on the sideline until practice was over. It wasn’t until the next day, when my vision hadn’t returned, that I headed to Urgent Care.
The doctor did a quick exam and told me frankly, that I needed to get someone there immediately, to drive me to the ER for a CT, or he’d be calling an ambulance. He was afraid my brain was bleeding and wasn’t taking any chances.
At the ER they put me in a C collar, and ran a CT. I was terrified.
Fortunately my scan was clear, and the doctor suspected that the partial blindness was a result of swelling around the optic nerve, and would clear up in a few days.
Before this, I didn’t realize how serious a concussion could be. I also thought that since I didn’t get knocked out, it couldn’t have been that bad. I was wrong. Our team doctor informed me that some people just don’t get knocked unconscious easily, while others do, and that it isn’t really the best gauge of the severity of a head injury.
After a couple of weeks, my vision was back to normal, but I still, 10 years later, have some lingering issues and this injury ended my short football career.
My story isn’t all that unique. In fact, nearly 4 million American athletes suffer sports-related concussions annually, and most go undetected.
So, what can coaches do about it? One approach to detecting concussions quickly and effectively, on the sideline, is REMOVE FROM PLAY testing using the King-Devick Test.
The King-Devick test is a timed, sideline concussion screening test that can be administered by parents and coaches in less than two minutes. This objective method uses rapid number naming to identify head trauma and determine whether an athlete should be removed from play. This testing can allow coaches and parents to determine if the player needs to be taken out of the game to prevent further injury. It helps prevent the serious effects of repetitive concussions caused by premature return to play after a head injury.
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This concussion testing can be used in Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Hockey, Rugby, Basketball, Martial Arts, Military and all other contact and collision activities.
I truly believe that these tests should be available and administered in every league, every sport, to every athlete. From the little kids, to the pros. The fact that so many concussions are going undetected is unacceptable.
It is important that as parents and coaches (and athletes ourselves) that we protect our kids and our players. So many players will dismiss their symptoms, because they don’t want to look weak, or they don’t want to be taken out of an important game, but their brains are so much more important than a game. We’ve seen the tragedies on the news, effective concussion testing can help prevent the loss of another athlete.
If you’re the parent of an athlete, you can find the Team Mom Playbook HERE It contains all the info you need to learn about Remove From Play concussion testing as well as a letter to your child’s coach, school, or league to ask them to get on board with this testing!
I received no compensation for this post. This is a topic that I feel VERY strongly about. We NEED to make changes, and protect our children, our players, and ourselves.