Despite new tech, concussions remain, leave lasting impacts


photo from lynn krugman

Senior Tyler Brown dives for a save during a 2015 varsity boys soccer game. Brown has suffered seven concussions and has had to stop playing soccer as a result.

Patrick Fitzgerald, Sports editor

Senior Lauren DeGori has no recollection of the basketball play that changed her life.
“I don’t even remember it other than the fact that I got a rebound, then saw stars. I just remember that I woke up in the hospital,” she said.
The injury was DeGori’s third concussion, sustained in an eighth-grade basketball game playing for Cockeysville Middle School.
In an attempt to get rid of the headaches, DeGori had nerve decompression surgery after her freshman year. The surgery was largely unsuccessful, she said, and she gave up the game after her sophomore season.
Even after stopping, DeGori said she felt the impact of her injury, and blurred vision caused by too much spinal fluid around her optic nerves led to a second surgery to drain the fluid.
According to athletic trainer Bryan Read, there have been six concussions so far this school year. Last year, there were 15.
Senior Tyler Brown, a former soccer goalie, was held out of the sport after a shot to the head resulted in his seventh concussion. The injuries continue to affect Brown’s everyday life.
“Some of my buddies told me they noticed my mood change,” he said. “I always have a headache, so in school it’s a lot harder to focus.”
Brown said he goes to Kennedy Krieger Institute monthly to have an electrocardiogram and do exercises involving balance and reaction time.
The progress has been limited, Brown said, and doctors don’t think he will ever fully recover.
Senior Leah Mexis suffered a concussion last May in an offseason basketball game when she tried to take a charge. According to Mexis, she missed about three weeks of school after blacking out in class the day after her injury.
Mexis is back playing on the girls varsity squad this season, but the impacts remain.
“It makes me scared sometimes to be really aggressive because I don’t want to get another one,” she said.
Last year, six football players here got concussions. This year, there were four, Read said.
Helmet manufacturers have improved the safety of their products. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science published on the school’s website, the safest helmet on the market is the Schutt Air XP Pro VTD II, which costs about $200.
Head varsity football coach Daron Reid is encouraged but realistic about the prospects of the technology coming here.
“I think it’s great for the sport. The downside is that we can’t afford it because it’s so expensive,” Reid said.
Reid noted that only 50 kids tried out for both football teams this season as compared to 80 the past three years. Though he doesn’t believe that concussions are the main reason for this dip in numbers, Reid has made an effort to improve safety at practices.
“We don’t tackle as much we would in the past,” he said. “In the summer time we do more hitting, more live stuff so we get acclimated to tackling, but as the season rolls around we try to keep their body fresh.”
The team is looking into purchasing Guardian Caps for the upcoming season. The caps, which cost about $60, go on top of helmets and absorb impact from collisions, Reid said.
Despite the risk, Brown chose to keep playing.
“In the end, it’s up to the athlete,” he said.
Editor-in-chief Sophie Bates and staff writer Hyunsung Ko contributed to this report.