You can’t put a cast on a concussion.
That’s what I tell my friends when they ask about what it’s been like to get over a concussion.
They’re invisible. When you have one, you look like you’re fine. But you’re not.
I’m Remy and I’m 14 years old.
Mom’s great idea
A couple of years ago, my hockey team came to Holland Bloorview to have a baseline concussion test*. It was my mom’s idea. She was the team manager.
Everyone on the team got tested. We played computer games to test our memories and did different tests to measure our fitness, agility and balance. We also had to wear a heart rate monitor for a day.
The tests were fun. We laughed and we joked with each other. But I never dreamed I would actually get a concussion.
And then I did.
A few months later, I was playing soccer and I got hit really hard in the head with the ball. I wasn’t expecting it.
Hurting, stressed and scared
My ears started ringing and I felt dizzy. I sat on the bench for a short time but I didn’t think I had a concussion, so I went back into the game. I think I made it a lot worse than it needed to be.
Days later, my headaches and dizziness wouldn’t go away, so I went to my doctor.
I had really bad headaches and felt tired all the time. And when I looked at a bright light my head would start to hurt. I was scared because I didn’t know how to get better.
And I was getting stressed because my teachers were still expecting me to hand in my homework. Everyone was expecting me to be OK, but I wasn’t. I was having trouble thinking and concentrating.
But then we remembered my baseline testing at Holland Bloorview, so we went back and I did all the tests again and they proved that I had a concussion.
It’s OK to say “no”
I started going to Holland Bloorview for treatment.
At first I was really nervous. But as soon as I arrived, everyone made me feel a lot better. Everyone was so happy and I felt really welcomed.
Every time I went back and did the tests again, I was getting closer and closer to my healthy score. It was such a relief to see that I was improving.
My team in the Concussion Centre also told me that while I was recovering it was OK to say no to things like school and sports.
I took some time off school. I was supposed to take it easy and rest a lot – that was hard for me because I like to do a lot of things, but I slowed down.
Sometimes I would just come downstairs in sunglasses and eat dinner and that’s it. Other times I would listen to music quietly.
It took me one month before I got better and went back to school. I started going for half-days and then full-days when I felt ready.
Excited about my future
I’m in Grade 9 now and I feel a lot better.
But now I’m a lot more cautious. When I play soccer, I am always aware of where the ball is. I’m also back on my school’s track and field team.
My advice to other kids – get a baseline test done. If you wonder if you’ve had a concussion – go and get checked by your doctor. If you keep playing sports you might make it worse.
And follow Holland Bloorview’s advice – take your recovery seriously and slowly, and you can get back to doing the things you love, just like I did.
*A baseline concussion test is a pre-concussion exam that involves a series of neurocognitive and physical tests that provide a pre-injury picture of the brain and body.