Concussions aren’t a new issue in the world of sports.
For decades, we’ve heard about the increase awareness of the dangers.
Until this school year, though, I never realized exactly how little I knew about them.
Sure, I had heard the Troy Aikman story. He has said that he suffered a concussion early in one of his NFC Championship games and, to this day, does not remember a single play from the game.
Sure, I’ve read the stories about former football players who suffered permanent damage after repeated concussions.
Several times over the past few seasons, younger NFL players shocked the league by retiring early for fear of their long-term health implications.
But in late September, my youngest of three daughters, Rylie, suffered one while working as a freshman student athletic trainer for the Acadiana (Lafayette, La.) High football team.
She was hit in the side of the head with an overthrown football while preparing water bottles for practice.
I remember picking her up from practice that day. She had a massive headache. She said it really hurt her.
Unfortunately, none of us realized how accurate that assessment was.
It greatly complicated her life for the next six months.
My vastly uneducated prognosis was that she’d have a headache for a day or so and that would be it.
As it turned out, Rylie wasn’t close to normal until late March. She was finally released to return to school as a full-time student on Wednesday.
It was basically five months of throwing up and headaches every day.
Initially, she seemed a little off, but she’s also a freshman in high school, so some of that was normal.
But this was different.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t totally up front with us about how off track this blow to the head had her. Much like an athlete does, Rylie wanted to finish the football season.
Shortly after the Rams were eliminated in the state quarterfinals, though, Rylie began opening up. She confided in me one night that studying still wasn’t the same.
She would study and not remember much at all.
She would go to class for an hour and not remember any of it.
Rylie entered high school as a straight-A student and was now struggling to get passing grades.
It got worse. At one point, her best friend approached her in the hallway at school, and Rylie had no idea who she was.
She had no idea that I ever did a weekday radio show that I’ve done her entire life and one she’s witnessed personally in the studio many times over the years.
It was scary. Really scary.
I reveal these personal details to encourage other parents to take concussions very seriously.
Sure I’ve heard of them, but I didn’t come close to understanding the full scope of a concussion.
One night driving home from work, I heard Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tell his concussion story on the radio. It was startling to hear about a famous professional athlete who was now afraid to do such everyday chores as buying groceries because of his concussion.