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Isabel Dwyer

July 1, 2024

A Concussion is a serious injury

For the longest time before I suffered my two concussions I thought differently, in competitive and sideline cheerleading I was taught to push through it, finish out strong and to always do what’s best for your team.

My first concussion occurred in the sixth grade during gym class. I got hit in the head with a basketball. My symptoms were not that bad. I experienced a headache and sensitivity to light for a couple of weeks and then was pushed back into cheer before nationals in florida.

My second concussion on the other hand was nowhere near how I felt with my first one. October in my sophomore year I got injured during cheer practice. I was holding up my flyer in a one leg extension when she lost her balance, her tailbone hit my head causing me to fall back on the mat. The next morning, I had a bruise on my forehead. I felt dizzy and nauseous. The lights in my room felt too bright. The familiar sound of the tv, my dog barking, and my family talking were suddenly much too loud. I was determined to get through the school day with sunglasses to cheer at that evening’s football game. I made it through the first period before I got sent home. I was diagnosed with a concussion at urgent care and the day after again by my pediatrician.

My days were plagued with constant headaches, sensitivity to light, loud noises, and trouble concentrating at school. Teachers did not understand that my thinking was slow and focusing made my head pound. Accommodations varied from class to class which only increased my confusion and anxiety. Some teachers simply did not understand why I could not turn in my work after a week’s extension. My teammates called me a “faker” and stopped talking to me.

Concussions are difficult for some to understand because there are no casts, scars, or crutches to show people that you are hurt. I was accused of lying to get out of practice. That was so hurtful because it was so far from the truth. I was so desperate to get back to cheering that I visited the pediatrician weekly to reassess how I was doing. My recovery was slow compared to the recovery from my first concussion. Eventually I was diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome.

My doctor explained the dangers in going back to cheer while I was still experiencing symptoms. Another injury to my brain could intensify symptoms and prolong recovery. The pressure that I felt from teammates, coaches, and teachers intensified my own perception that I was a disappointment. It led me to feeling isolated, depressed, and anxious. My concussion lasted my whole 1st semester of my sophomore year. Even now a year later I still have some symptoms. For example, my whole thought process of thinking and comprehending is slower than before and just concentrating is harder. I’ve struggled with my school work way more than before and it takes me 10x longer to complete assignments compared to other kids.

Now that I have experienced a concussion I decided to turn a negative experience into a positive. I now strive to advocate for those who are or have struggled with a brain injury. I want to share my story as many times as I can to make an meaningful impact for those who are struggling.

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