Concussions in game: I stopped playing after maintaining head knocks

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I turned into sixty-three not out and batting fantastically, flaying Weston Creek fifths all over Rivett Oval. Cut shots, pull photographs, effective heaves down the city. I changed into sixteen years old and definitely on the way to 100. And then they added at the Angel. He becomes quite a bit quicker than his pals.

The Angel (known so for his surname) bowled a 1/2-tracker that I formed to hook. There followed a meaty “thock” no longer of leather-based on willow but instead Kookaburra six-stitcher connecting flush with proper temporal bone. And, helmet-loose, down onto the artificial wicket I went.

I got up quite quickly, even though, dazed greater than injured – a chunk of a sore head, but I knew what changed into happening. I concept I should have stored on batting but umpires and captains counseled I retire hurt, so off I toddled. I pulled off my gloves, sat on a bench and heard the chirp of chook tune that commenced gambling in my head. I sang along with it while steel spit crammed my mouth. And that turned into my last memory till I woke in the hospital the next day.

 

I’d had a seizure. Went all blue and red, thrashed approximately. My poor vintage crew-pals had been in every kind. They bundled me into a V8 Commodore and accelerated Hindmarsh Drive to a sanatorium, pouring water on me, cradling my neck, doing their fine as right people do.

Twenty years later, another one. I turned into punched by way of a inebriated, hard, at the pinnacle of the pinnacle. More stunned than concussed, I became capable to walk domestic, in which I sat at the sofa and had a seizure looking TV. I wakened up surrounded by police and ambos, worried flatmates. And it was up to medical institution again.

After per week of MRIs and scans, a physician pointed to a few anomalies on a mind wave chart, and stated: “Epilepsy.” Shape of it, besides. The medical doctor said he wouldn’t have acknowledged in which to appearance if I hadn’t cited the cricket incident. Apparently, it had lain dormant. It had taken the ones knocks to bring it on. They’re the most effective two seizures I’ve had but it’s safe to mention I haven’t performed rugby or cricket or positioned my head near anything speedy and tough, ever because.

James Graham has and could. The St George Illawarra Dragons the front-rower and England global says the fun of rugby league overrides the hazard of mental injury. He argues that people over-take pleasure in alcohol and tobacco notwithstanding understanding the risks. He says his grandma has dementia although she never performed rugby league. He’s researched things, performed checks upon himself. And he says: “What are you purported to do? Stop gambling?”

Well, maybe.

The eighth Immortal of rugby league, Andrew Johns, revealed the volume of his epilepsy in a best and uncooked interview together with his brother Matthew on Monday night. Another Immortal, Wally Lewis, told a similar story in separate interviews with Fairfax and News Corp, describing his very own seizures, his empathy with Johns and his choice to play the sport he cherished regardless of the mind-fog of bodily conflict.

Neither guy blames rugby league for their circumstance. Neither guy could definitively say – because specialists can’t both – that the pinnacle accidents they suffered on the football discipline exacerbated or in any other case brought on their epilepsy. They might also have nonetheless had epilepsy in the event that they’d been live performance pianists.

Yet as Melbourne neurologist Mark Cook declared in Fairfax’s Good Weekend: “Even thru mild brain accidents, the risk [of developing epilepsy] is as a minimum doubled.”

Former player Ian Roberts says he can “virtually empathize” with Johns and Lewis after their diagnoses. Roberts become advised he had “irreversible brain damage” early in 2014. He says he’s saddened but now not amazed with the aid of Johns’s revelation.

“To pretty actually know you have some form of mental damage is a surprise,” says Roberts. “And I use the term ‘brain harm’ on purpose. When humans speak approximately a ‘head knock’ it one way or the other makes it the form of OK. But it’s miles brain damage. And it’s going to take those excessive-profile cases for the problem to get the air time.”

Roberts points to a 50-guy Deakin University have a look at that he became a part of that checked out the consequences of concussion. There were 25 footballers and 25 guys of a comparable age who hadn’t performed contact recreation. They were studied, tested and scanned. And every one of the players was superb for a few shapes of mind damage, in line with Roberts. “Of the 25 guys in the manage institution, most effective 3 got here back fine.”

Nevertheless, Roberts says he is familiar with and respects Graham’s opinion. “I hear what he’s saying. He’s talking about his personal state of affairs. And it’s first-rate for him to have his angle, his opinion. I’m no longer talking down to him – it’s best that he doesn’t thoughts risking his mental fitness to play a game that he loves. But I’d say no longer all and sundry feels the same way.”

Roberts consents with Graham: it’s all of us’s desire whether or not to play contact sport. “But now not all and sundry knows all of the information,” he says. “People have to be aware of the capability for brain harm in contact sport. We’re encouraging kids to play sport and that’s notable. But if they’re touch sports activities, it’s about making parents aware of the risks.

“It’s not about wrapping kids in cotton wool. It’s about setting the data accessible and letting human beings make a knowledgeable selection. A lot of people don’t have the information. There are preventative measures.”

On Tuesday morning, earlier than I’d written any of this, my spouse despatched me a text with a hyperlink to an editorial approximately Johns and the question: “Should our boys really be playing these head sports?”

I still haven’t written again. I’m now not positive of the answer.