Britney is 15 years old, just finishing up her freshman year in high school. She's an honor student and an athlete; she loves hanging out with her friends and her dog...
Mia is nine years old, a fifth grader at a local elementary school. She's fun-loving and fearless and always the life of the party; she does well in school and loves spending time at the barn with her horse...
These girls don't know each other, and you would not think they would have much in common because of their age difference - but they do...
They're both battling the after-effects of a serious head injury.
I know, when you think of head injuries you think of football players, soccer players or maybe even baseball players but actually a head injury can occur at any time to any one.
Britney's concussion happened in the heat of summer, right before her level five competitive season of gymnastics was about to start - one second she was practicing the high-bar portion of her uneven parallel bar routine and the next thing she knew, she was on the floor, she had lost her concentration for a split-second, flew off the bar, hit her head on the lower bar on the way down and landed on her head. Britney did not remember most of the details of what happened so her Mom had to piece it together by chatting with the other girls that were there when it happened.
In the days following the injury, her cognitive ability was impaired and she could not read or it would produce a headache. She had trouble remembering her homework assignments, physically did not feel well and although she was exhausted, had trouble sleeping. She became depressed because she missed being with her friends and was missing out on her gymnastics season.
Seven months later, she's still struggling in school and she still has trouble reading and memorizing - keeping up with the honors classes that she was thoroughly enjoying the first week of school is now challenging and she's had to get an exemption for extra time to finish assignments. She's healing, but it's slow, one day things will be looking great and the next she can feel like they are at square one again.
Mia is not a stranger to head injuries - she jumps horses and competes in horse shows and had fallen twice before, being thrown from her horse - once so hard that it cracked her helmet in two - but each time she healed.
The third concussion came on a roller-coaster at a Florida theme park - she told her Mom that she had hit her head, but no one thought it was a big deal, it was just a roller-coaster after all - how bad could it have been? For the next couple of days, she had headaches on and off, but again, nothing that raised a red flag. On the flight home she began crying hysterically telling Mom that her head hurt so badly she thought she was going to die - the white of her eye on the injured side of the head turned red and she had a nosebleed that lasted more than an hour, everyone thought it was just the pressure from the airplane, but they decided to go to the doctor the next morning. When she arrived home, of course she went to the doctor, but she had a high fever so it was written off as a type of flu. Mia slept for 21-23 hours per day every day for almost three weeks and had severe headaches and impaired cognitive function - she was displaying many of the same symptoms as her previous concussions had offered. After many visits to the doctor she was sent to a Children's Hospital and diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome - the small injury caused by the roller coaster was compounded because of her air travel and previous concussions and proved to be quite serious.
Twelve weeks later, Mia is now on a modified school day, only attending a few hours a day, if at all; she is only able to concentrate on anything for a few minutes at a time and has to stop as soon as she feels a headache coming on. She must wear sunglasses anytime she is outside to minimize headaches and must eat on a regular schedule to keep her glucose levels regular (an important part of brain healing). She is on medications to help minimize the concussion migraines, but they have lots of side-effects and she will need to be carefully weaned from them. Her doctors prognosis is that she will eventually heal completely, but it could take up to a year. She is still not her usual bubbly self and afraid that her life will never return to normal again.
Head injuries are serious - for everyone, but especially for children. They need to be taken extremely seriously and more Teachers, Coaches and Parents need to be made aware of the symptoms and the quick and easy test called The King-Devick Test and Remove From Play Testing that can be administered quickly and easily on the spot if a head injury is suspected.
I am working with Maria Bailey, Of MomTalk TV and MomTalk Radio to help raise awareness of head injuries and how we can get our kids removed from play quickly and easily with simple tests. We both strongly believe in implementing concussion screenings in youth sports and spreading the word about Remove From Play’s test.
Maria has also created the RFP Team Mom's Playbook. The Remove From Play Team Mom Playbook is the ultimate tool for any team mom to use in assisting her to bring this affordable concussion-screening tool to her child’s school or team. Please show it to your coaches, trainers and sports teachers and ask them to implement this test for your child's team.
Britney and Mia are real kids - I know each of them personally and they are both the sweetest girls you'll ever meet - they should not have to be dealing with the results of a head injury, disrupting life at a time when it should be enjoyed to the fullest.
Please protect your children and ask their sports instructors and coaches to implement Remove from Play testing.
Here are some important links:
- Remove From Play Website – www.rfp2test.com
- Remove From Play “Team Mom” Digital Playbook - http://bit.ly/RFPplaybook
- Remove From Play social media channels: