Even less will know how I’m still suffering from symptoms of post concussion syndrome, daily.
And very few people will know how the long-term effects of concussion can ruin people’s lives.
I've decided to go one year, no beer (or any other form of alcohol). I have different reasons for pursuing this - I'm aiming to allow myself to finally recover completely while raising awareness of the effects of concussion and raising money for concussion research.
If not diagnosed or treated appropriately it can result in things like post concussion syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (I highly recommend watching 'Concussion' with Will Smith which will acquaint you with how horrific CTE can be), or second-impact syndrome (which can be fatal), not to mention being linked to numerous mental health issues, neurodegenerative diseases, and even suicide.
Case in point: Steve Thompson, a former English rugby union player, is 42 and has been diagnosed with early onset dementia because of concussions sustained during his career. He can't remember winning the Rugby World Cup final in 2003, arguably one of the proudest moments of his life, and struggles to remembers his wife's name. At just 42, that's completely absurd.
That's just one example of how deeply concussion can effect someone's life and there's much more out there.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin that can compromise recovery from traumatic brain injuries of any sort (surprise surprise).
Don’t get me wrong. I love drinking - it's engrained in Irish culture. But that’s part of the issue. Athletes of contact sports need to think more about how drinking can compromise recovery from concussion.
If you're diagnosed with a concussion, lay off the drink for a few weeks. If you play don't have access to a physio or medical professional in the sport you play, keep in mind the symptoms of concussion (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/symptoms-causes/syc-20355594) and let someone know if you don't feel right. You're going to feel pressure from your coaches, your teammates and yourself to keep playing, but it's not worth risking so much for.
I may never recover fully. If taking one year alcohol-free along with my continued rehabilitation doesn't get rid of my symptoms, I'll just have to keep trying. But if I can prevent another person from going through what I've been through (or worse) then it'll all have been worthwhile.
All donations will go to the Irish Concussion Research Centre. Visit [https://www.gmit.ie/science/irish-concussion-research-centre-icrc] for information.
- Kevin Walsh
- Marie Louise McKenna
- Julia Ehrt
- Blayne Burke
- Alistair Robinson
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