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It only took a moment

She was in her 6th year of playing Ringette at a competitve level.  Two weeks ago the "Red" team, a competing team over 2 hours away, had asked her to play for them as a sub in a league game.  Last week they asked her to play for them as a sub at an upcoming major tournament.

This week  her team had a Sunday afternoon league game against them.  Like happens a hundred times in a game, the ring went to the boards, white went in after it (board side), and red went in after it.  White gained control, the play went on.  What no one saw was the extra shove, and elbow or shoulder, in an effort to regain control.  It only took a moment.  

Ringette player

White finished her shift.  She came off this ice and rolled her head, stretching out her neck muscles.  "Are you okay?" asked the coach.  "Oh yeah" she replied.  It only took a moment.  She played the rest of the game, not knowing that she shouldn't.  Not aware of the symptoms. 

After the game, when she came out of the dressing room, the lights seemed a little brighter.  Her head was starting to hurt.  She told her parent and her coach.  It only took a moment.

When she got home she was so tired.  She thought it was just the long drive, the tough game.  She slept until dinner, and then went back to bed.  The next morning her head hurt, but not too bad, so she went to school.  By noon it was too much so her parent brought her home.  An appointment had been made with the concussion specialist for tomorrow.  It only took a moment.

By Tuesday morning, she was feeling dizzy too.  A bunch of tests.  No school for a week.  No work either - she had to call in and cancel 2 shifts... $100 gone... Physio, Massage... It only took a moment.

Week #2 Checkup.  Not a lot of improvement.  No school this week either.  No work.  Therapy sessions are over $200 per week.   So much for Christmas shopping money... Had to cancel 3 shifts... It only took a moment.

Week #3.  Checkup.  The headaches are getting better; dizzyness subsiding.  She timekept a few 1 hour games but had to cancel her reffing, and her part-time job again.  Really starting to miss school and ringette.  She tried back to school for one class - that was a mistake.  Slept most of the next day.  On the weekend her team was in their first tournament.  She went to the games - headache was "okay".  Was too excited to listen to her parent and rest.  By Sunday night she wished she had.  So frustrated.  All she wants to do is Play... It only took a moment.

Week #4.  Checkup.  Headaches have stabilized.  Time to try school part time.  Her doctor says that studies have shown that re-establishing routine often helps.   Spent most of 1st period in Guidance - quieter.  2nd period was tough but they had a test and she wanted to finish it.  The teacher gave her extra time and as many breaks as she needed.  Then she went home to sleep.  She has a meeting tomorrow with guidance to work out a strategy to try to salvage her school year.  

Tonight she'll go to her practice and sit on the bench for the 4th week in a row knowing that she won't be playing yet this weekend... and next weekend is a tournament.  She knows that she can make a difference on the ice.  She's a good player, a team player.  She's SO frustrated.  She's missed more games than she's played.  She's missed 3 full weeks of school.  She's missed 3 weeks of work, which with this week would have been $500 for Christmas money.  She's missed 4 games she was supposed to ref.  She can only hang out quietly with a few friends for an hour or so at a time....All because of a split second decision of another player.  And it only took a moment.

Concussions management shouldn't begin at the moment of impact.


It should begin by preventing that moment of impact.

In our sport this season over 50% of the players out with concussion are because of an (intentional) elbow, a shoulder, a body to the head.  These are the preventable ones. That little extra push to get the ring, to try to gain an advantage.


Talk to your players.  Next time this could be their story instead of just ours.  

It only takes a moment. 

 

 


A cautionary tale

I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's concussion, Nancy. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but one can only wonder what would have happened if her concussion had been identified early and properly managed.

First, of course, it was a mistake for your daughter to continue to play because she didn't know the signs of concussion, and it is too bad that all those tell-tale signs - the continuing headaches (number one concussion sign), the sensitivity to light, feeling tired and sluggish when she got home, the need for sleep - didn't lead her to getting the cognitive and physical rest she needed.

Going to school on Monday was, of course, a big no-no. So by the time she saw a concussion specialist, the damage, unfortunately, was done.

But, at least from that point on, you did the right thing in helping her recover from post-concussion syndrome: keeping her home from school, out of sports, out of work, and, when she did return to school, it was only part-time and with academic accommodations. As Dorothy Bedford, a hockey mom and author of a revealing 9-part series on the journey she and her daughter took after she suffered a concussion at boarding school called the Unmarked Detour, and you learned, concussion management needs to begin the moment after impact.

You are also right that we need to do a much better job of enforcing safety rules so that intentional elbows, shoulders, and body blows to the head are no longer seen as part of sports, as part of the winning-at-all-costs attitude that, sadly, pervades today's youth sports. As one of our bloggers, Hal Tearse, Assistant-Coach-In-Chief of Minnesota Hockey, however, has pointed out, getting officials to actually step up to call penalties is one of our toughest challenges.

Good luck to you and your daughter, and thanks again for sharing your story.