Head injuries in sports are quite common. They result in traumatic brain injuries and concussions that can bring a career to an end.
While sports organizations are bringing in rules to make sports safer and reduce such incidents, the question remains: Is there life after a head injury in sports?
Can athletes continue to accomplish great things and enjoy life after such challenges?
The answer is YES! There is recovery after head injuries, and many athletes continue to show that every day. Here are a few inspiring sportsmen and women who have proved this.
1. Sidney Crosby
After years of winning cups and trophies in ice hockey and being part of the Canadian National Hockey league, Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion in 2011 that almost got him out of the game.
However, after fighting his way through recovery, Sidney got back into the game and excelled.
He has since been named one of the 100 greatest NHL players, played in several NHL all-star games, and is today an advocate for concussion awareness.
Sidney is also the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and continues to enjoy competing at the game he loves.
His advocacy efforts recently earned him an award from the American Brain Foundation, and he continues to work at promoting positive conversations on the handling of brain injuries in hockey.
2. Ian Boswell
Ian Boswell, 28, a career cyclist, suffered many concussions during his career. However, in 2019, an accident happened during the Tirreno-Adriatico that led to a life-changing brain injury.
It resulted in a concussion whose effects such as dizziness and double vision forced him to retire from racing road bikes, a sport he had enjoyed since the age of 8.
Fortunately, Boswell did not let his head injury stop him from enjoying life. He took up another challenge – gravel racing.
Transitioning into this other form of bike racing has given Boswell a chance to continue doing what he loves – cycling competitively.
He has also become a respected ambassador for Wahoo Fitness.
3. Ryan Mason
After years of playing football at Tottenham HotSpurs, Ryan Mason fractured his skull during a Premier League game in 2018 and was forced to retire from his football career.
Unfortunately, the severe head injury left him with 14 metal plates in his head and brain trauma that could not allow him to continue playing football.
Having been a professional footballer since the age of six, Mason was devastated.
However, he found a way to continue being part of the sport he enjoys by earning his coaching badges and passing on his knowledge of the game to young players.
Today, he is Tottenham’s under 19 UEFA youth league coach and continues to prove that life after a severe head injury is possible.
4. Sara Urke
Sarah Urke’s dream from a young age was to become a successful Olympic athlete in synchronized swimming.
Unfortunately, that career path was cut short in 2009 when she suffered a debilitating concussion at 16.
The concussion came at a time when her excellence in the sport was evident, having joined the 13 -15 yrs USA synchronized swimming national team.
Fortunately, Sarah did not allow that experience to slow her down.
She decided to help people with traumatic injuries such as head trauma and spinal injury as a career and to create awareness on these issues.
Today, she has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Columbia University. Her focus continues to be – helping people recovering from concussions to regain their life, balance, and strength after the trauma.
Although she can’t compete professionally, Sarah enjoys synchronized swimming as part of a ballet troupe that performs artistic shows in private functions.
5. Eltje Malzbender
Para cyclist Eltje Malzbender is looking forward to competing at the Tokyo Paralympics and the challenges she’s had to overcome to get here are inspiring.
In 2016, Eltje suffered a brain injury after a hit-and-run that almost took away her ability to talk or walk. At the time, she was an accomplished road racing cyclist whose dream seemed to have come to an end, after she was left in a coma by the injury.
After 4 weeks, Eltje came out of the coma and started on her road to recovery. Brain trauma resulting from the injury had triggered severe issues with her mobility, balance, and coordination. These issues took time to fix.
However, with her determination and the assistance of an expert brain trauma specialist and physical therapists, she stepped back into competitive cycling as a paralympian and has not looked back since.
Today, Eltje Malzbender is a strong contender for a gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics and an inspiration to many athletes recovering from head injuries and brain trauma.
It’s never the end!
So as you can see, life does go on after an injury. These five inspiring men and women are proving that every day.
If you are recovering from a brain injury, don’t lose hope. The most crucial aspect to focus on when it comes to excelling after a traumatic head injury is a positive attitude and rehabilitation.
Exercises for brain injury recovery and different forms of treatment such as cognitive and occupational therapy can make a massive difference to your recovery process.
Any kind of injury to the brain takes time to heal, and not rushing the process can contribute significantly to a successful recovery.
Perseverance is also of great importance. These athletes prove it every day!
Author: Penny Nelson