The League

Dawn Knight

Dawn Knight

The author of Taliaferro: Breaking Barriers and a high school English teacher.

Can't rush recovery


As Austin Collie once again lay motionless on the field, Colts fans watched in horror. He shouldn't have been back yet, I thought. It made me sick to think about the repercussions of another brain injury. I'm no expert, but I learned a lot about concussions after my son suffered a severe one during a rugby practice in August. People who have had concussions are not actually more susceptible to concussions, I discovered. However, if they are not fully healed and try to return, they are very likely to suffer another concussion - and a concussion on top of a concussion can be very dangerous.

Thanks to better concussion awareness, Westfield High School -- where my son is a senior -- had done baseline testing. His doctor was able to use the baseline test to make sure he did not return to rugby before he was completely healed. He would not be released to play until he was symptom free, retook the concussion test and passed, and then went through a series of exercises without symptoms. The first two times he went back to the doctor, he was not released. He ended up missing his entire season and three weeks of classes.

It was scary to watch what the concussion did to him. For weeks he was a different person, often confused, unable to focus on school and enduring severe headaches and nausea. When he would start feeling better, he would try to catch up on school work, but that would lead to a headache and set him back again. He went in for an MRI and more evaluations, but they only indicated that he needed more time to recover. There was nothing we could do to hurry it along.

The death of Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry and Austin Collie's third concussion emphasize the need to make sure players are fully healed before returning to play. Henry's death came from a blow to the head in a fall. However, a study of his brain showed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease caused by multiple concussions, and that this may have contributed in some way to his death. This is exactly why Collie's situation is so scary - the long-term effect of multiple concussions is serious.

Football players are going to get hurt - it's the nature of the game, but head injuries cannot be taken lightly. The same set of requirements my son had to pass -- evaluated independently of the team doctor -- is a start. Beyond that, there needs to be an education program for the players and coaches about the long-term effects of concussions.

By Dawn Knight  |  December 21, 2010; 11:16 AM ET  | Category:  Concussions , Indianapolis Colts , NFL , NFL Rules , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: It's the helmets! | Next: Who's responsible?

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company