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A First-Person Account of What a Concussion Feels Like

It's no secret: Concussions have been one of this blog's favorite topics.

With 31 states having now enacted some form of youth-concussion law—roughly 20 of them coming this year—concussions have, quite frankly, been one of the biggest stories affecting student-athletes in the past few years.

But one side of the story that this blog hasn't covered all that much: What it feels like to have a concussion.

Luckily, Elizabeth Landau, who writes about health issues for CNN.com, published a piece earlier this week detailing her experience with a recent concussion. And it's well worth your read.

Landau, who starts her piece by saying, "I honestly thought that concussions happened only to football, soccer, and hockey players," suffered hers in an adult kickball league, when she and a teammate collided mid-air.

After a not-so-pleasant experience waiting in a hospital to be examined, Landau received the all-clear on a CT scan, and was diagnosed with a concussion. (Mild concussions often won't show up on CT scans.) She writes:

I consider myself extremely lucky that my injury was as mild as it was, but I've still experienced a bunch of little symptoms that I never used to associate with concussion. During that first week, anything that jarred my head in one direction or another—even nodding "yes" during a conversation or walking fast—made it hurt more. Riding Atlanta's subway for 20 minutes at a time made me nauseated (although some friends say that this is their normal experience).

It's hard not to stress out about inadvertently stressing my brain. Suddenly, I've had to take care of myself in a whole new way, which includes healthy habits I'd neglected before. I've had to make sure to get eight hours of sleep or more so that my head doesn't hurt as much. I've had to eat normal meals on a regular schedule, otherwise I feel weak, nauseated, and unusually grumpy. Noises are louder, and lights are brighter, so I've had to avoid ridiculously loud environments and make sure to wear sunglasses outside.

Why is the experience of a concussed CNN writer being featured on a K-12 sports blog? Because when you're reading about all these youth concussion stories, it's important to keep in mind just how much a concussion affects a person's day-to-day activities.

Suddenly, your sleep schedule becomes that much more important. You're supposed to keep your screen usage to a minimum. You're more sensitive to lights and noise.

So, all the states enacting laws to protect concussed student-athletes from returning to play too quickly aren't necessarily doing it for liability reasons. They're realizing that when a student-athlete suffers a concussion and allows it to go unchecked, the side effects will spill over into the classroom.

And sorry to say this, Schooled in Sports readers, but this blogger will not be trying a repeat of Ms. Landau's experience. At least, not intentionally.

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