Concussions cause athletes to suffer on and off the field, reflect on experiences

by Emma Klebe, ’13 and Carly Tovell, ’13

Imagine the moment an athlete’s eyes pierce open to the stadium lights overhead after a hard hit. Trainers surround the player as the athlete walks off the field feeling dizzy and nautious.

Hard hits on the field are becoming more common for high school athletes, making athletic and academic success difficult to achieve.

Senior football quarterback Alex Husted has experienced concussions first-hand. Throughout his four years in the football program Husted has encountered multiple serious head injuries.

During the Homecoming football game on Oct. 5, the Bears played Hilliard Davidson at the Marv. UA lost the game 14-42. The UAHS football team has lost several key players due to concussions. Photo by Maria Berger

During the Homecoming football game on Oct. 5, the Bears played Hilliard Davidson at the Marv. UA lost the game 14-42. The UAHS football team has lost several key players due to concussions. Photo by Maria Berger

“I got a concussion my freshman year during our second game, junior year in the playoff game and again during week three against Gahanna [Lincoln High School] this season,” he said.

Husted said he cannot remember much from his first hit.

“I can’t exactly remember what happened when I got my first concussion,” he said. “It was kind of foggy in my mind and the trainers were asking me questions that I could not answer.”

Husted’s concussion cost him two weeks of the season and several additional weeks of rehab. His rehab included biking, running and numerous recovery tests that checked for hand-eye coordination and balance.

Apart from rehab, Husted also had to recover from problems with his eyesight.

“My vision has gotten worse since my concussions and I’m going to the eye doctor to get contacts,” he said.

Husted believes concussions are becoming more common in high school athletics.

According to the Center of Disease Control, “during the period 2001-2009 children between the ages of five to 18 increased 62 percent to a total of 2.6 million sports-related emergency department visits annually, of which 173,285 involved a traumatic brain injury, including concussions.”

Athletic trainer at UAHS and OhioHealth Ryan Weible, explains the two different types of concussions that have increased in the past ten years.

“A concussion is sustained in two ways— coup and countercoup: coup is when the injury occurs at a point on the brain where the impact occurred and countercoup is when the injury occurs on the opposite side of the brain,” he explained.

No matter the type of concussion, rehab is vital in an athlete’s recovery. Weible believes the best rehab for athletes is rest.

“Rest allows the brain to properly heal itself. Every time the brain is stimulated from exercise or cognitive work, healing time can decrease and make the athlete’s symptoms increase,” he said.

Concussions continuously occur not only during the football season, but also throughout the winter and spring sport seasons. Similar to Husted, senior Joe Cammeruca has struggled throughout his season due to a head injury.

During a tournament in last year’s lacrosse season, Cammeruca experienced a season-costing concussion.

His recruiting process came to a hault along with his entire spring playing season, as he began his rehabilitation process.

Not only did Cammeruca’s head injury affect him with lacrosse, but his academics suffered as well. Cammeruca wasn’t aware of the 504 plan, an option at UAHS designed to help student athletes suffering from a concussion to adjust their school work specifically to their rate of recovery.

Without a 504 plan, Cammeruca didn’t feel the same support by the school that he did by the trainers, doctors and coaches. Because of this, Cammeruca felt the level of understanding from his teachers varied.

“Individual support changed depending on my teacher,” he said.

Cammeruca feels UAHS needs to do more with support for its athletes with concussions academically.

“It is important to use the training staff and your doctors but school help needs to be increased for people with concussions, especially people who have severe concussions,” he said. “They didn’t help me [find solutions for my personal plan] at all.”

Because of the ever increasing effects concussions have on high school athletes, the support of the athletic and school administration is essential to their recovery.