Stories about: sports concussion

July highlights: Mother’s intuition, music therapy & more

Catch up on what you may have missed on Thriving last month. Our staff takes a look back at a few of this month’s favorite posts.

A mother’s intuition—and a fall down the stairs—save a little girl’s life

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Liz Beaulieu is likely the only person in the world who can say she saved her child by falling down the stairs.

Her daughter, Arielle, was just 4 days old. Liz was carrying her downstairs when she slipped. Not sure whether Arielle had hit her head, she whisked her to her local ER.

“She seemed fine, and they said that she looked fine,” Liz says. Still concerned, though, Liz kept a close eye on Arielle over the next couple of days. That’s when she noticed something.

“I noticed the slightest flicker of her eyes,” Liz recalls, “and decided that I wanted to get it checked out.” She took Arielle back to the hospital, asking them to do a CT scan. The hospital demurred, but Liz insisted, telling them she needed the peace of mind.

“So they did the scan,” Liz recalls, “and they found an enormous tumor.”

Read about Arielle and her family.

Kyle Cooper waits 18 years for oral surgery

Kyle at prom c/o VeraAnn Photography
Kyle at prom c/o VeraAnn Photography

Kyle Cooper was born with hemifacial microsomia (HFM), a craniofacial anomaly that resulted in the left side of his face being underdeveloped. It meant his face was noticeably uneven and barely any of his teeth touched. “I made it through and got used to it, but I couldn’t eat things like meat because it would take me three hours to chew.”

In February, Boston Children’s Hospital Oral Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Bonnie Padwa reconstructed the 18-year-old’s upper and lower jaws and his chin. He returned to school just in time for prom and graduation.

Learn more about Kyle.

My life after concussion: Finding a new game

Esther playing soccer before her concussion and practicing her golfswing after her injury
Esther playing soccer before her concussion and practicing her golfswing after her injury

Fifteen-year-old Esther Lovett’s life turned upside down after she suffered a concussion. An excellent student and star athlete, Esther was seriously challenged by the prolonged affects of her concussion.

Read Esther’s words of wisdom for other teens.

For baby Joy, music and medicine are in perfect harmony

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James Danna enters the Boston Children’s Hospital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) with the tools he’ll use to treat Joy, a 9-month-old patient recovering from open-heart surgery. Instead of a stethoscope or scalpel, James carries only small percussion instruments and a guitar.

He gently opens the door to Joy’s room, taking a quick read of her heart rate—138. Joy is a tiny little thing in a great big bed, under bright lights and tethered to multiple machines. Over the course of her multiple procedures for a congenital heart defect, the noise of the monitors, air conditioning and loudspeakers have made for a very wary baby. Her medical chart describes Joy as “staff phobic,” as most adults who enter her room poke and prick her.

But Joy has met James many times before and knows him to be safe. She locks her eyes on him and waits for the music to begin. Keeping his distance, James quietly hums a tune while strumming a few chords on his guitar.

Joy smiles, crosses her little legs and nods to the beat.

Listen to James and Joy.

Tyler’s story: 20 surgeries with a smile

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Tyler Bois is a boy with goals. His career aspirations run the gamut. Some days, he dreams of playing football with his favorite team—the Dallas Cowboys. Others, he wants to open a pizza shop, perhaps called “Slice of Ty” or “Ty’s Pizza Palace.”

For now, the nine-year-old stays busy with every day kid stuff—playing with his golden retriever puppy, planning for Cub Scout camp, dancing in the school talent show, skiing and wakeboarding. Somehow between all of these activities, Tyler has squeezed in 20 surgeries.

Born with spina bifida and a Chiari malformation (a congenital defect in which the back parts of the brain slip into his spinal cord), he approaches each surgery with a trademark smile and can-do attitude.

Meet Tyler.

 

 

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NHL star on sports concussion: Be aware, get tested

concussionJason Zent, a retired professional hockey player, has witnessed a dramatic shift in concussion awareness since the start of his professional career in 1995. Though awareness of how a concussion impacts an athlete’s health has improved, Zent is on a mission to continue to raise awareness and promote baseline testing.

Zent played hockey in high school at The Nichols School in Buffalo and for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but concussion was not talked about during his high school and college playing days.

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Six ways to reduce young football players’ concussion risk

shutterstock_84227776Linebacker Chris Borland has retired from a promising NFL career at 24-years old, citing concerns about his safety. The rookie, who had sustained concussions while playing high school football and eighth-grade soccer, felt the risk of continuing to play football outweighed the benefits, including his $420,000 salary.

Is it possible to keep young players safe while playing football? Some parents have guided their children into sports that are perceived to be safer, like baseball, basketball and soccer. But all activities pose some risk, and for some young athletes, football is it.

How can parents and coaches reduce players’ risk of injuries, particularly concussion? Michael O’Brien, MD, director of Boston Children’s Hospital sports concussion clinic, weighs in.

  • Make sure your child’s sports equipment is in good condition and fits properly.
  • Insist on a culture of safety that does not reward overly aggressive or dirty play.
  • Ensure that coaches are up to date on safe practice and tackling strategies and have kept up with concussion education.
  • Focus on fitness: building neck and shoulder strength, as well as improving overall fitness, may lessen the risk of concussion.
  • Make sure your child is able to recognize the symptoms of concussion and knows to speak up if symptoms are present.
  • “When in doubt, sit them out,” means that if concussion is suspected, an athlete should be out of practices or games until he can be evaluated by a medical professional.

Computerized testing (like ImPACT) that assesses an athlete’s verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time can provide a useful tool for doctors to use in determining when it is safe for an athlete to return to after concussion. Players and teams can schedule ImPACT testing at Boston Children’s Boston or Waltham sites.

Learn more about concussion prevention programs at The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention.

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