My son, Connor McLoughlin, was excited to play freshman football at North Medford High School. He got his "bell rung" many times during the season, which of course he did not share with me.
Up next, wrestling. During a practice while on winter break, he smacked his head on the coach's knee. At that time he was told he had a "minor concussion." One month later, he suffered a severe concussion during a match in which he was knocked out. He missed an entire quarter of school, 50 percent of his cognitive ability and suffered from post concussive syndrome for more than two years. He will never play contact sports again.
Connor was 14 when he got the concussion and is now 17. Thank God he is fine now, though he still, at times, has trouble gathering his thoughts or remembering things.
It was quite the frightening experience. I have a very different attitude regarding concussions and feel it is very important to educate people on just how dangerous and life altering they are. — Melissa McLoughlin, Medford
We were at Pacific University and in 1991, Eric Ross was hit during a game. At first he seemed dizzy and as he came to the sideline, the trainer asked us all for our blankets. I watched at halftime as the helicopter came in and took him off the field. He never woke up and died later on.
Yet, I still watch so many kids play the sport and let both of mine play. Eric's mom never blamed the sport. It was a freak hit. He had his head low. But most of all, he had gotten a concussion the week before and kept telling the trainer he was fine. Yet he told a friend he was still having headaches.
Most of all, the kids have to be honest about how they feel because it is not worth missing a week or two. I'm glad to say mine made it without concussions, and I believe many are fine and walk away from the game healthy. I would not trade what my kids have gained and learned from football for the fear they could get hurt because they could get hurt doing a lot of things that won't help them in life. — Leah Singler, Medford (wife of coach Bill Singler)
My concussion fears were not existent, as was my knowledge, in 2008, when my son got his first concussion in sixth grade. After he spent 31/2 months at home recovering, I was determined to understand concussions, and yet he concussed five more times in the next year as I made mistake after mistake in returning him to sports.
My experience of frustration and lack of knowledge fired a passion to change the playing field for other parents, and I began what is now three blogs and international mission to educate parents, coaches and players about concussions. — Katherine Snedaker (sportscapp.com, pinkconcussions.com)