Brain injury can have far reaching impact on the trajectory of a person’s life. When I was injured in my Sophomore year at Wagner College Football, The American Academy of Neurology’s (1997) guidelines suggested retiring an athlete for life after three diagnosed concussions. I had three documented brain injuries in the first 5 weeks of that season, an undersized (195 lbs) linebacker.
My presentation to a brain injury specialist at that time was a frightening awakening. The symptoms I had were a culmination of a lifetime of contact by age 19. Lost, afraid, and symptomatic virtually everyday, I can thank goodness for the support of family and friends and some outstanding professors in regaining my trajectory.
I had to figure out how to live my life with the shadow of brain trauma lurking in my day to day activities as post concussion syndrome. Slowly things improved. Study methods, exercise, medicines for symptoms were all pieced together through trial and error. But it worked. I found my way back to academics and physical fitness.
There are too many to list in this short blurb to thank for getting me back to health. And for helping me find ways of overcoming that obstacle. But the single piece for which gratitude spills over is the understanding that a life lead in passion and service is the most authentic experience we can hope for.
The fact that my professional career ended-up taking me to sports medicine with a focus on sports related concussion is truly a remarkable blessing. Having the opportunity to give of myself to patients facing injury, with a true ability to empathize with them, gives me a strong sense of meaning, purpose, and gratitude.