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By Emily Guggenmos
CTE has been making headlines as former pro athletes come forward showing signs of brain damage due to concussions...
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ďItís not worth the rest of your life for one game,Ē said Zackery Lystedt, 20, whose life has been forever changed because of just thatóone game...
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Founded here in Western New York, the Program for Understanding Childhood Concussions, PUCCS, has raised the eyebrows of experts...
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This year, the Advantage Co has produced a special fundraising edition as part of the 17th annual Advantage Co Catalog, which includes a...
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PUCCS made an appearance at the third annual Santa Clara Valley Brian Injury Conference in San Jose, California. Amber Lindke, executive director of PUCCS, and...
ďIf I could tell youth athletes one thing, it would be to take care of your health. If youíre suspected of having a concussion, donít go back into the game, no matter how you feel when the adrenaline is flowing.
It makes me feel proud when I hear about Lystedt Laws being passed in other states. Sharing my story is important ó I donít want anyone else to live through what Iíve had to live through every day.
I take it one day at a time and feel better most days. Iím motivated by the friends and family who believe in me.Ē
ďThere is no one tougher than my son.† Sometimes players and parents wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play injured.† Battling pain is glamorized.† Zack couldnít swallow or hold his head up.† Strength is seeing Zack stand up out of his wheelchair and learning to talk again.Ē
Victor Lystedt, Zackeryís father
Zackery Lystedt is a 20 year old who suffered multiple concussions while playing in a junior high school football game in October 2006, which resulted in severe brain trauma. In and out of a coma for three months and unable to move for more than a year, Zackery had to relearn how to speak, move, eat, drink Ė all the things most take for granted.
Zackery has been an advocate of concussion prevention and with the help of his attorney, developed a first-in-the-nation legislation requiring written medical clearance following a concussion, before returning to practice or competition. The law, known as "Lystedt Law," has served as the model legislation for 48 states and has received the endorsement and support of the American College of Sports Medicine, American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the NFL.
The Lystedt Law contains three essential elements:
1.†Athletes, parents and coaches must be educated about the dangers of concussions each year.
2.†If a young athlete is suspected of having a concussion, he/she must be removed from a game or practice and not be permitted to return to play. When in doubt, sit them out.
3.†A licensed health care professional must clear the young athlete to return to play in the subsequent days or weeks.
The multiple concussions I have suffered have affected every aspect of my life, from my schoolwork to my athletics to my personal relationships. My life has been negatively impacted mentally, physically, and emotionally. My oncepromising hockey career has ended too soon; my ability to concentrate in school has been compromised significantly;
my sleep patterns have been interrupted; my personality has changed. In short, my life has been put on hold Ö and no one knows how long this will last or whether there will be any permanent damage.
With the help of my doctors from the University at Buffalo Concussion Clinic and Erie County Medical Center, I have made a good deal of progress in the past several months dealing with my symptoms, and I am optimistic that I will return to normal in the very near future. However, I will never be able to play hockey again because of the danger of another concussion, which could be devastating. This is the hardest part for me to accept because hockey has been such an important part of my life since I was 2 years old. That is why I have decided to try to turn this negative into a positive by choosing a career helping people with concussion-related injuries. Iím not sure how I will accomplish this goal Ė maybe by becoming a coach, trainer, or even a doctor Ė but I know I want to help any way I can. I hope my experiences and perspective will make me more effective in treating and assisting those suffering from these serious injuries
Youth Hockey Player
Philip was a sports nut. He played hockey and lacrosse and after he had his sixth concussion, when he was knocked unconscious, he was not able to play sports again. The concussions affected his life completely. Sports were everything when he wasnít in school, so that was pretty significant. Philip's last concussion was so severe that he had terrible migraine headaches, vertigo, nausea and wasnít able to read. Philip was a very good student and his schooling went right down the tubes. He couldnít focus, he had to take incompletes because he couldnít sustain any kind of concentration or attention and he had incredible depression. He lost his identity - he wasnít able to read or play sports. After a lot of therapy, Philip graduated from Canisius High School and will attend Loyola University in New Orleans in the fall. His symptoms have greatly improved. Concussions have affected his social life - Philip is not the same person that he was. Itís been a long road. Heís not the same boy - heís got moodiness, heís unapproachable, heís very angry. I had this really great son who had everything going for him and he lost it all. The biggest thing I learned from Philipís terrible experience is that all kids want to do is get back on the ice or the field. Never trust when they say they are fine. Concussion research is incredibly important - whatís happening with bringing all of this information to the forefront is imperative.
mother of Philip Kane
Quotes from Philip Kane:
When asked about how concussions have affected his life:
I have a lot slower processing speeds, so that makes school a lot harder. I have to have extended time for tests and assignments. Because of the last concussion, it was a definitely a possibility that I couldnít graduate because it was a lot between the headaches and all of the symptoms, but we got it done and I graduated and it feels good. It was a relief honestly. I walked across the stage and I literally opened it to make sure there was a diploma inside!
Concussions also impacted my relationships with people, especially my friends. Iím very moody so I took it out on my friends and my family and itís put a lot of stress on my relationships and I lost a few really good friends because they werenít around to see me go through it which was hard. The other big side effect of concussions is depression and I struggled with that a lot this year.
When everything started it was very difficult for me to deal with the problems because I didnít know how to handle it. You couldnít do anything about it. I had to sit there and wait. With time it got better and I got passed it and figured out to deal with it.
You have to try and keep busy. If I didnít keep busy I would probably revert back into depression. I work a lot and hang out with friends before I go to school so it keeps me busy.
When asked about how concussions affected his relationship with his mom:
Itís really put a strain on our relationship. I think she wants to try and protect me still and be motherly but not only is it something you canít do anything about but at the same time Iím growing up trying to be an adult.
I think itís really important to research concussions because thereís not a whole lot that we do know at the exact time that they happen. That was always the biggest struggle. My doctors always said to go home and take it easy and give it time and it was difficult to not do anything to help. It would really help with preventing them which is ultimately what needs to be accomplished.
When asked if sports are too physical:
Hockey is doing a good job. Theyíre moving toward no tolerance with hits from behind, etc. I think that the games themselves are good, itís the personalities in the games and itís people taking it too far. All my concussions were from hits from behind because I was unsuspecting and in a vulnerable position. Hitting is a part of every game and you canít take hitting away from the sports because itís such a big part of the game.
When asked what advice he would give to young athletes:
Be carefulóthereís no shame in saying ďIím hurt,Ē if youíre hurt. I definitely went back in games too early but I didnít want to let my team down but that was honestly one of the biggest mistakes Iíve ever made because that screwed me up. I had a scholarship for lacrosse for college. I was so upset that I had my mom call and tell the coach that I wouldnít be able to play.