By Ken Reed

Rebecca Ruiz has written a powerful and compelling essay about how a concussion caused her to give up the sport she loved: soccer. Ruiz, now a writer in the San Francisco area, suffered a concussion the summer before her freshman season at Seattle University. The symptoms lingered much longer than she or anyone else expected. Once back on the soccer field, she never felt the same, physically or mentally. She eventually walked into her coaches office and quit in order to focus on trying to get her healthy brain back.

“About 250,000 young athletes are treated annually in an emergency room for a sports-related concussion,” writes Ruiz in Aeon magazine.

“Those with the luck to avoid our fate fear that it is only a matter of time before an off-kilter tackle or mid-air collision comes for them, too. They know that a concussion can cause lasting damage, forcing them to choose between their brain and being a competitor who refuses to quit.”

Sadly, it’s a choice too many contact-sport athletes are having to make these days.

A key takeaway from Ruiz’ article is how important it is not to return to play too soon after a concussion. An athlete suffering a second concussion soon after a first can be diagnosed with Second Impact Syndrome, a very dangerous — even potentially fatal — condition. Unfortunately, too many athletes, and their parents and coaches, aren’t getting the message.

A recent JAMA Pediatrics study from the Institute of Medicine in Washington DC found that a culture of ‘play through it’ still permeates organized sports. According to the study, despite increased awareness about the risks of head injuries, athletes still resist reporting concussions and don’t always comply with orders to rest. For example, the study found that more than half of the injured young girls continued to play through concussion symptoms.

Scary stuff.

Read Ruiz’ article and then pass it on. Thanks to Pamela Weintraub for sharing it with me.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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