Student Perspective: Living with a Concussion

This is the second of what we hope will become a series of articles by students explaining one aspect of their life. This entry, by Matt Bright (2016) is about living with a concussion.

by Matt Bright
BHS News

A Braintree Patch article was released stating that over fifty three students this year were affected by concussions at Braintree High School. Concussions are a very serious and severe injury in high schools. Concussions are a commonly found injury, especially in a high school environment. Although concussions are in the news many people don’t understand the reality of experiencing one.

A Massachusetts system of “grading” concussions was put into play not long ago. This system is leveled by colors. Red, being the most severe and inactive level in which school isn’t a necessity and if so it’s half days. Orange coming next which is still very severe, but attending school is expected at this point. Then there’s yellow, in which the concussed student attends school fully and deal with the minor headaches to come. Lastly green which is where the concussed person gradually come back to full contact in sports and there’s no cushion for your school work in a learning environment.

All of this was experienced last year first hand, when I got myself two severe concussions over the span of the 2012-2013 school year. I got my first playing basketball, simply going too hard and falling back and hitting my head so hard I fell unconscious. My second one was received by slipping in my house, I just smacked my head off the floor and had my bell rang once again. I dealt with the after issues of concussions all throughout the school year. Missing tryouts for two sports and missing over half a year of physical education.

Although not many people reach stage red, it’s necessary to understand the difficulties that come along with it. Vomiting, nausea, migraines, mood swings, increased perspiration and dizziness are just a handful of symptoms that come along with a stage red concussion. Days and days of endless puking vile and dry heaving, having absolutely no appetite and a raging confusion on top of it all. I had an unfortunate experience with a lot of nausea. I constantly felt light headed and vomiting always seemed imminent. I missed three days straight then continued on a half day schedule for the following week.

Stage orange is not too far from awful either. With the exception of returning to school, orange and red are very much similar. Most people tend to still have issues staying in school all day. The nausea lingers around, constantly putting the concussed on the edge of vomiting all over the place. The body and its reflexes are still out of balance and maneuvering through cluttered, noisy hallways is never an easy task with any degree of a concussion. At this point nausea and dizziness dulled and the headaches really started to bother me. Reflexes were still atrocious at best and reaction times were at my all-time low.

Stage yellow is where the nausea and vomiting generally stop. Headaches still there, eating habits generally get back to normal, and some senses come back. Although school is mandatory, navigating throughout a noisy and annoying school environment never does a concussion any good. Very often this is when kids can “get used” to being concussed. Compared to the first week or so a stage yellow is heaven sent. When I experienced stage yellow it seemed almost normal because the majority of my headaches disappeared I just had issues taking tests. Also my concentration still lacked its usual abilities.

Stage green is when physical activities may resume at a pace. Students start off in a physical environment and gradually get cleared until full contact is resumed. This is the least painful and most pleasing stage of a concussion. Kids get to return to their sport if they play one and Physical Ed is resumed. Stage green was a walk in the park. It’s what every athlete waits for. It’s time to get back to your sport and physical ed.

Even after a person is cleared for their concussion many affects may linger for any period of time. Headaches still often stay around for long periods of time. Once a person “gets used” to their headaches they may become a common part of a day. Most nausea disappears along with a loss of appetite and an increased perspiration. Many people say concussions change them in the long run, that is possible especially with very severe concussions.