Use Your Head: Concussions sideline athletes

5:51 AM, May 19, 2010   |    comments
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"It kind of felt like my eyes just rolled in the back of my head and I got really dizzy and I really couldn't think clearly," Rob said.

That's what Rob remembers from eighth grade when he played quarterback and was hit by a violent blindside sack.

"I took a couple days off from school but then I went back, and I was struggling for about a week," Rob says.

Sure enough, a few weeks later Rob took another sack from his blindside. This concussion wasn't as bad as the first but the symptoms lasted longer.

"My memory was kind of fuzzy and sometimes it actually like hurt to think. I still don't know the final score of that game," Rob says.

This time, he took a year off from football to let his brain heal. Now he's back on both the football and baseball fields, but playing a smart game.

"The symptoms are painful and, if they're not treated correctly, there's potential that it could hurt you for the rest of your life," Rob says.

Alex Spectorsky and Leland Whitehouse both played lacrosse and both were sidelined because of concussions.

"I managed to pick up two concussions during football season and one during the winter lacrosse season," Leland says.

Weeks after the last one, he sustained another during a lacrosse game. But this one was different.

"The fourth one was particularly scary because the actual impact wasn't that strong. I just kind of bumped his chin but I don't remember for about two hours on either end of the thing," Leland says.

Alex received all of his concussions snowboarding. The third happened during a national competition last November when he lost his balance during a trick.

"I cracked my goggles and part of my helmet and I blacked out for a little bit. When I got up, I knew something was wrong and the rest of the day I really don't remember," Alex said.

In fact, Alex says he doesn't remember that two-week period he was in Colorado for the competition.

His symptoms aren't improving so he may be forced to give up sports he loves, both soccer and lacrosse, permanently.

"The doctors didn't want me playing because of the chance if I get another one, I won't fully recover," Alex says.

Leland understands Alex's dilemma. He had to quit sports because of his concussions and find a new hobby.

"I fish more, I play guitar, I tried debate for a little while," Leland said. 

Leland's decision to quit sports may have saved his future. He'll enter Yale University in the fall.

"I'm going to be using my brain for the rest of my life," Leland says.

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