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Concussion Problems: My Daughter’s Concussion Was a Big Deal

My younger daughter suffered a head injury this summer, a concussion sustained while she at sleep away camp. This unfortunate incident has impacted her life in the months since—as well everyone else in our family.

M slipped on the floor in one of the camp’s buildings and fell hard, hitting her head on the edge of a metal bench. Apparently she was knocked out for a few minutes. She went to the infirmary and rested for a while, but no one notified us back at home. I didn’t know about this serious incident until a few days later, when a postcard she wrote to us came in the mail. She described how she got hurt, that she was still in pain, and the staff didn’t believe that it was that serious. She added an angry-face sketch at the bottom of the postcard.

After reading this I phoned the camp, quite angry. The nurse downplayed the seriousness of the injury and when I phoned my husband with this news, he called and chewed them out as well.

Should we have gone to visit her the next day? Should we have driven up to the camp?

We didn’t, and she didn’t ask us to take her home. But we were angry with the camp staff for not contacting us and for not taking her to the nearest emergency room.

M did have a fun time at camp for the most part, and she had a good group of friends there. But we have worried ever since about whether we did the right thing. Shortly after we brought her home following the camp session, we took her to a neurologist and for a series of Cat scans. Fortunately no damage was found, but I remember she cried softly while getting one of the procedures, because she was in such an uncomfortable position during the testing.

Lingering Effects Of Concussion

Poor M. She has had to visit the neurologist and his staff several times. She’s tried out a few different types of medications, and has trouble swallowing pills. She frequently endures headaches. Her reading speed has slowed, and with the harder school work this year (she is in an honors class), she has seen her grades dip somewhat, which also hurts her confidence. She can’t participate in gym class and must be careful to shield herself from wayward Frisbees and basketballs. Even in band class, where she plays flute, she tires more quickly and has taken to wearing ear plugs, to muffle the sharper sounds.

She attends physical therapy sessions twice weekly, working on neck exercises which are slowly helping her become more comfortable. And she had the additional pressuring of preparing for her bat mitzvah ceremony, as well as for a specialized school entrance exam.

I suffered a minor concussion many years ago, recovering within several weeks. But M has had lingering effects for a longer concussion recovery time. This does happen, and we continue to monitor her carefully. We hope she will recover fully.

Ellen Levitt

Ellen Levitt is a veteran school teacher and mother of two daughters, and a lifelong resident of Brooklyn.

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