Daniel Snider (Osteopathic Manual Practitioner and Certified Athletic Therapist), shares his concussion story and the risks of leaving symptoms untreated
In 2007, I was a student athletic therapist working on the bench during a hockey game. I was working the door, so I was right up at the boards and midway through the second period, the play found its way right in front of me. One player came in to make his check on the other who was playing the puck. Somehow, one of them got his stick up high and struck me over the head knocking me down, into the side wall of the bench. The play went on since no one on my bench seemed to notice that I got hit.
I gathered my senses, and I got up to resume my job, but it wasn’t ok and I wasn’t going to be ok for a long time. Little did I know at the time, this was the start of a lot of problems for me. I had a quick assessment by the team doctor at intermission, finished the game and drove home (to be honest, I’m surprised I made it there). I went back to see the doctor a few days later after suffering cognitive symptoms and freezing during one of my exams and not being able to read or process information properly. Although I was a student training to be an Athletic Therapist and concussion was part of my realm, I did not know who to go see, or what to do. I tried to convince myself I was ok but as time went on, I was more concerned about being able to study, focus, and retain information. My personal concussion symptoms were that I felt slow and my head hurt...a lot. I didn’t seek treatment, and I will argue that despite thinking I knew what to do, I felt lost and didn’t get the help I really needed. For years, I worked many games where athletes suffered head injuries. I did all the side-line assessments, gave the initial information, and told them to see their doctors. That’s what we were told to do. I didn’t understand at the time that someone could treat me and help me recover faster. I chose to just let it go….but it was never gone.
Fast forward ten years later to 2017. The same thing happened again during another hockey game and while I tried to get out of the way this time, I still got hit. While the hit was not as hard as the last one, the ramifications of the injury put a massive strain on me. My symptoms were much worse and I suffered physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms.
Some of these symptoms included:
- My focus and concentration were non-existent at times.
- I had a constant headache.
- I was reactive and emotional where I wasn’t before.
- I struggled with making decisions.
- I had trouble reading and retaining information.
I tried my best to push through but it was taking a heavy toll. Once again, I was in school, and this time I was studying for my osteopathy program. I don’t know how I made it through that year with these recurring concussion symptoms. This time, during class, one of my professors took me aside and asked me why I wasn’t getting treatment. I had never told him what happened but he could see it in my face, and he could see the strain in my body. He knew I was suffering from post-concussion symptoms without even asking. One of TAs who was privy to our conversation, agreed to treat me and set me on a healing path that I am so thankful for. Even after a few sessions, I began to understand how big of a toll these hits took on my mind and body. We were treating remnants from the first injury that were still there 10 years later.
What I know now is that when you’re suffering, even in the slightest, your cognitive processing is impaired. Decision making is impaired. We aren’t thinking clearly. We need help, but how do we self advocate? I thank my professor for stepping in and speaking up when I didn’t recognize what was going on with myself. We need our support networks. We need our family, friends, and colleagues. Going through my own recovery has helped me have a better understanding of what others are going through. Although everyone’s recovery is different, no one should feel helpless or alone.
If you suspect you may have suffered a concussion or want to learn more about what to look out for, check out this blog post filled with signs, symptoms, and recovery suggestions: Concussion Symptoms + How to Create a Recovery Plan.
And as always, I am here to help! You can book an appointment with me through these links:
About the author: Daniel Snider is an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner and Certified Athletic Therapist. He has a passion for helping people not only heal, but also better themselves. Among other things, he works with people with sports injuries and treats people with persistent post-concussion symptoms. Learn more about Daniel Snider here.