Living with Concussions

What is a concussion? How does it affect your daily life? Is CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) really a thing? These are questions I get asked throughout a week. I have received my fair share of concussions, enough for about three or four people. I am no expert at concussions and can’t speak for all cases, but I do know a few things about them from personal experience.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. That’s the medical definition of what a concussion. But it’s really an injury to your brain that can cause temporary or permanent damage. Concussions can result in different symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome. Some of these symptoms are easier to live with than other ones, but either way they still affect daily life.

Living with multiple concussions is harder than people expect. Because of my concussions I have major symptoms including lack of focus, migraines, and insomnia. These symptoms are challenging to deal with day-to-day because you have to acclimate yourself to them. Having one symptom is difficult enough to deal with, but having all three throws a curveball into the mix. Each symptom requires you to act in a different way and find a balance between them, because lack of balance could cause one symptom to be worse.

However, some minor symptoms like forgetting what’s due or not recollecting tiny details about something is a little easier to deal with. For these, you just have to just be prepared and know your weaknesses, like having a notebook to write down due dates. Like the major symptoms, preparation for whatever is to come is the key to being successful while living with Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Concussions can range in severity and how long recovery will last. Personally, the longest time it took me to recover was about three months, which is not typical recovery time. Once you receive one concussion, it becomes easier for you to receive another, and so on. The more concussions you receive, the easier it is to end up with CTE.

CTE is a progressive degeneration of the brain, and eventually parts of the brain harden. CTE is a terrible thing to have because it causes memory loss and eventually dementia. Athletes like Mike Webster, Junior Seau, Chris Benoit and others have suffered from this. These stories are extremely sad because they all ended in suicide. Another common occurrence is that athletes or veterans will commit suicide because their brain is killing them and they go crazy.

The daily life struggles of having multiple concussions and Post-Concussion Syndrome are not fun to deal with, but they are manageable. I know this might sound like “don’t go out and hit your head because you will get a concussion and all bad things will happen.” However, it’s quite the opposite of that: life is all about taking risks. Just be cautious and aware of the risks beforehand.

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Sean Whitley is a sports writer for The Lorian.

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