I was just reminded of a student who fell and hit his head on the pavement several years ago while at recess. The blow had been so traumatic that for weeks after the injury, the boy was not the same person. His personality, his demeanor, and his cognitive abilities all seemed altered by the concussion that he had suffered. Eventually he returned to his normal self, but for what seemed like weeks, I thought of him as an entirely different person, even going so far as to rename him Ned in my mind for a time.
I have suffered from more than my fair share of concussions in my life, beginning with a fall from the rings during a gymnastics unit of PE during my freshman year of high school. Somehow I missed the mat and landed on my head, knocking me unconscious for about a minute. It was a serious injury that kept me out of school for a week and in a fog for a long time.
Since that day, I’ve probably experienced about a dozen concussions, from two automobile accidents, a diving accident, two pole vaulting accidents, a softball to the head, several fists to the skull, and general clumsiness. I was once found unconscious in a walk-in freezer, having slipped and fallen on a patch of ice. Doctors have told me that my repeated head injuries make it more likely for me to experience concussions in the future. And with head injuries in the news because of recent developments in the NFL, I’ve been thinking about my history of concussions a lot.
If just one fall on the pavement can alter a kid’s personality for more than a month, what have the repeated concussions throughout my life done to me?
Am I also a Ned?
Has my personality, demeanor and cognitive abilities been permanently altered by my history of head injuries?
This may explain a great deal.