After concussion, there was encouragement

To the Editor:

Back in September 2012, our daughter got a concussion during a Souhegan High School soccer game. Those few moments would change her life. The following 2-plus years were spent in and out of countless doctors and specialists offices receiving a massive range of therapies that had little or no impact on her Post-Concussion Syndrome. Some actually made her worse. Her cocktail of symptoms was topped off by debilitating chronic headaches that left her unable to attend school on a consistent basis, hang out with friends or enjoy the simplicities of life that the rest of us take for granted. Finally, this past August, we found our answer with a doctor in Rhode Island whose unique treatment finally gave us our daughter back. She no longer lives a life of pain and is ‘spiraling up ‘and is reintegrating into her new life. She’s back with friends, catching up on school work, having fun at her job and developing new dreams for her future. She has her sparkle back and our family feels so incredibly grateful.

Why am I telling you all this? There are two reasons…. First, the end of the school year is quickly approaching and before everyone bolts for their summer holidays, it’s important that we extend our Gratitude (with a capital G) to all the teachers, staff and SHS classmates who continue to encourage her. A massive shout out to …. The SHS soccer program (both then and now) and all her teammates who always made sure she felt part of the team, the SHS guidance department (especially the amazing Anne Burke) who continues to work with us to make sure her studies stay on track, to the kids at school who have showed compassion even though they weren’t quite sure what was really happening, to the folks in the community , some of whom we’ve never met, who donated to Cara’s to help make her treatment possible, and mostly to her friends who’ve stuck by her side offering continued support and periodic injections of good humor when she really needed it …. A massive thank you!

Living and breathing the elusive world of Concussion for over two years brings me to the second reason for this note.

The issue of awareness has begun to take a much needed spotlight and folks are beginning to acknowledge the symptoms and true ramifications. This is fantastic. Knowledge is power and safety comes with being aware.

But what’s really important is the need for parents, coaches, and even the athletes to put their personal agendas to the side and let their loved ones know that, as difficult as it can be, sitting out is OK. Not sure what to say to your kids?

Start with and repeat, with loving care, the Game is Minutes, the Brain is a Lifetime. They need to recognize that a spinning head, seeing stars and losing balance is not ok and regardless of the sideline clearances, they need to think twice before taking the field even when they think they’re fine. Ultimately, missing a few practices isn’t the end of the world but playing through a concussion can be. There are a lot more minutes in the game of life than in any soccer, football, lacrosse or any other game combined. So… repeat after me… the Game is Minutes, the Brain is a Lifetime. Be gentle, be aware and take good care.

If you’re interested in reading Cara’s story and the treatment she received, please read the April edition of ParentingNH Magazine.