Health Beat: Life after a concussion

One concussion, three years of recovery
Posted at 6:01 AM, Aug 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 08:43:32-04

Julie Dawson is a beast when it comes to the volleyball court.

She coaches high school volleyball at Southside High and her passion for the sport runs deep.

"I've been coaching volleyball for 25 years and I've been hit in the head many times," says Dawson.

Dawson says she knew the risks that came with playing in a high contact sport. She never thought she would be the one to fall victim to a concussion from the sidelines.

"A couple of years ago, during my very first practice here at Southside High School, I was hit in the head with a volleyball," Dawson says. "It was an accidental hit in the head and it knocked me out. I experienced a full blown concussion. I was highly concussed for about 12 weeks due to a hit in the head from a volleyball."

Dawson was able to get the help she needed, but three years later that concussion is still a part of her day-to-day life.

"It's not as severe as it was. My thought process is...completing sentences sometimes--I used to be very quick and witty and on my feet," Dawson explains. Now I find the words in my head but I can't them on my tongue. I am still receiving some medical attention, occupational therapy, and physical therapy to work through a few of those things."

Four components to look for if you suspect that you are your child may be experiencing a concussion:

  • Physical-- The person is experiencing nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
  • Emotion-- Feeling of sadness or anxiety
  • Cognitive--Difficulty concentrating, lack of memory and reaction speed
  • Sensory-- Sensitivity to light, noise, not sleeping enough or sleeping too much

"After you get those basic components down and you're able to follow those things and your child just isn't acting correctly--there are other red flags," Neurosurgeon, Dr. Jason Cormier, says. "Is there projectile vomiting, are the headaches getting worse, are there seizures, or have they started to slur their speech?"

Dr. Cormier says that when you get to this point, it is time to seek medical attention.

"Some people think that concussions will get better on their own, typically they do, but some do not," says Cormier. "If the condition continues past two weeks then that's now considered post concussed. If the red flags are there then you need immediate attention."

While Dawson has gone through the ringer in the last few years---she said it has made her more aware of concussions and how easy they can happen.