Monday, September 10, 2012

Lauren Staveley: My Concussion

words by Lauren Staveley

All I can remember from the 10th of August is driving up to Snow Park in the morning. The next thing I woke up in the hospital throwing up strapped to a back board in a neck brace.

What actually happened after I drove up the mountain that day is...

I was having a great day on the jumps at Snow Park. I had landed some switch back 5's, a trick I have been working on for ages. My coach said it was my best day of snowboarding all season- until I went too big on one of the jumps. I landed on my heel side edge fell onto my back and then hit my head.

I was never knocked out but I did suffer from retrograde and anterograde amnesia. After falling I kept on asking, "Did I land it?", "Did I grab?" for about 20 minutes over and over. I was taken to the medical centre at Snow Park on a back board and in a neck brace. Because I was obviously shaken up and not making much sense the ski patrol decided to air lift me to Dundedin hospital where I had a CT scan on my back and head. The scans only showed concussion there was no bleeding or breaks in my skull... I was moved from the emergency room at about 8.30pm into the neurological ward where I spent the next two days. 

I was pretty confused about how severe my injury was and what had happened since I had a 12 hour memory blank. The doctors at Dunedin told me I would be ok but it would be a fair while until I could return to snowboarding. I spent the next two days in the hospital doing absolutely nothing. I couldn't stimulate my brain very much so the most exciting part of my day was doing memory tests with the occupational therapist. 

I was released on the 13th and stayed in our apartment in Cardona until the 17th when we flew back home to Melbourne. It was probably the most boring week of my life. When we got back to Melbourne I was still getting headaches and couldn't look at bright lights or be around noise without feeling horrible. 

Once we were back in Melbourne I visited Doctor Makdissi at Olympic Park Sports Medical Centre. He is a sports physician who specializes in head trauma. He cleared up a lot of my confusion about the injury. He told me concussion is a very individual injury, and it is hard to predict exactly how long it will take for me to get better. So for now I just have to slowly ease back into life and not aggravate my symptoms too much. I have been cleared to snowboard but not to do anything where I am likely to hit my head again (jumps or rails). 

It's now the 3rd of September and I am still suffering from minor headaches, I am sensitive to noise and find it hard to concentrate for more than a few hours. Concussion is a very frustrating injury to have, physically nothing appears to be wrong with you. It's not like a broken leg, you can't just put your brain in a cast and say it will be better in 6 weeks. You just have to rest and take everything really slow. Which is frustrating for someone who snowboards as a career, it's been a big change! 

I have an MRI on the 5th of September and then visit Dr Makdissi again on the 7th. We are hoping he will give me the all clear so I can start training again. 

Its been a long ordeal and it's not over yet.  With cases like Torah, Kevin, and Sarah it has really made me think how lucky I was. But the one thing I can take away from this is to always wear a helmet, because my helmet saved my life that day. 

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