Zack's parents, whose lives have been completely altered as they have cared full-time for their son, sued the school district for allowing him to play through his injury. The district settled, with one of its lawyers shrugging off the payout as a "business decision."

That still offends his father. "Shame on those lawyers," says Victor. "They can all rot in Hell as far as I'm concerned. There's nothing 'business' about my kid."


Miami's David Goldstein spoke to the Florida legislators about devastating health problems that developed after he suffered multiple concussions. Despite his testimony, Florida killed a concussion bill for youth athletes.
Michael McElroy
Miami's David Goldstein spoke to the Florida legislators about devastating health problems that developed after he suffered multiple concussions. Despite his testimony, Florida killed a concussion bill for youth athletes.
Five years ago, former soccer player Natasha Helmick (left) once played a game half-blind after sustaining a concussion. Today, her mother, Micky, says that it takes her daughter three times as long to complete mental tasks.
Mark Graham
Five years ago, former soccer player Natasha Helmick (left) once played a game half-blind after sustaining a concussion. Today, her mother, Micky, says that it takes her daughter three times as long to complete mental tasks.

Before she became an old woman at age 14, Kayla Meyer had three passions. She rode horses on her family's farm. She was a huge reader. "Supernatural monsters kind of thing," says the gregarious Minnesotan when asked what books she likes, "or old kind of sword-fighting stuff."

And, like seemingly every other man, woman, and child in the iced-over town of New Prague, 45 miles south of Minneapolis, Meyer played hockey.

In early 2009, then age 13, she was skating in a club game when a collision took her legs out from under her and she fell, hitting the back of her head. Meyer told the coach she was fine and played the rest of the game.

When she went to the nurse with a headache the next day, the nurse gave her aspirin. When her headache persisted, a doctor administered a run-of-the-mill CAT scan, which does not detect concussions. Nothing looked amiss, so she was cleared to return to the ice.

"I've been skating since I was 4, at the pond near my house," Meyer says. "It would've just felt weird not to play hockey."

Ten months later at a high school team practice, Meyer was doing a drill she calls "mountain climbers," a sort of butt-in-the-air pushup on skates. Exhausted, her arms slipped, and her forehead smacked the ice. The rest of the team skated to the locker room, unaware that she lay crumpled in pain. It wasn't until the next team found her in the rink that Kayla's mom, Mandy Meyer, received a frantic call to come to the arena.

Kayla's head hurt so badly in the next couple of weeks that her bewildered parents called a plumber to check for carbon monoxide leaks in their house. Her coach's solution, according to Mandy Meyer: "Put a helmet on her. Let her skate through it."

Kayla's head was too sensitive for her to even bear a helmet. She hasn't played hockey since. A year and a half since that second concussion, she remains hobbled by excruciating headaches and a crippling intolerance to noise.

Kayla's ordeal illustrates a debate occurring in the medical community: How long should a concussed youth sit out before returning to athletic activities?

"Some people said 10 days, others said three months," says the Texas Medical Center's Jones about a medical conference that he recently attended. Meanwhile, Ashley sits somewhere in the middle. "We really need to be thinking seriously about waiting at least 30 days until a person with a concussion returns to play."

Natasha Helmick, along with licensed physicians, believes that concussed kids also need to take time away from academics in order to fully recuperate. While she recovered from her injuries, Helmick says, she refused to miss her classes at Allen High.

"Part of the reason why I'm so bad now is because I had a concussion and I played the next day and I went to school the day after that," she says.

As athletes ascend to high stakes university-level sports and academics, some are starting to wonder if the gamble really is worth it.

Born and raised in Santa Ana, California, Karoline "Kari" Krumpholz was destined for water-polo greatness. Her father, Kurt Krumpholz, a three-time All-American selection in men's water polo, was inducted into UCLA's Hall of Fame in 2008, the same year that Kari's brother, J.W., won a Olympic silver medal with the U.S. water polo team.

As a sophomore at Foothill High School, Krumpholz and her water polo team won the 2007 California Southern Section Division I championship. After a star-studded career that included numerous athletic honors, she accepted a scholarship to UCLA.

During a UCLA practice in February, Krumpholz was defending "one of the strongest girls on the team" when she got clocked between the eyes by her teammate's elbow. Krumpholz thought her nose was broken, but upon further examination, a student trainer said she was fine. As a precaution, the trainer made her skip the rest of practice.

However, Krumpholz wasn't doing so well the next day. "I went to class, and I knew something was wrong. I couldn't focus, and I felt out of my body. I am a really good student so for that to happen, I knew something wasn't right."

That day, a doctor diagnosed her with a concussion. Five months later, in between nearly daily visits to various UCLA physicians as well as Orange County's Migraine & Headache Center, she's still experiencing symptoms.

To Krumpholz's knowledge, this is the first concussion that she has received. "But since I've been having so many problems, one doctor said that it's possible that I had undiagnosed concussions in the past," she says.

If and when her symptoms clear, it's doubtful Krumpholz, a sophomore majoring in psychology, will return to the water.

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10 comments
days out for kids
days out for kids

Wally do not ever gets whatever what is the news is during things. He's got designate is acceptable. Asphalt. What i mean discourage start! Speculation the guy would will need to care about having a concussion should the guy tried athletic? Heh.

Amber Murray
Amber Murray

Your websites terrible! Loading issues won't let me read the article.

Doug Bittle
Doug Bittle

Walter never sees what the news is in anything. He's name is appropriate. Concrete. As in block head! Guess he wouldn't have to worry about getting a concussion if he played sports? Heh

SLA
SLA

I had a concussion when I was 5 from being thrown from a horse. Will it be illegal to ride hroses as a kid too? I probably had a harder time than everyone else in a lot of subjects too, but I was never "dumb" always perceptive and got decent grades, but I had a problem retaining the information without a lot of extra work or emotion involved. I forget things very easily, but not to the point that it's screwing up my life. At what point do we ask ourselves is a safe and boring world really living...? Now if they're playing sports, yeah, don't be a moron, get your kid out and take them to the doctor...but frankly, the damage is done at that point.

charles
charles

Uhhh how about an informed society???? personally I didin't know about the future problems but thanks to this article I do now....people like you should be hit in the head with a shovel.....after diggin of course.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

I don't see what the news is here. It's common sense. Isn't western medicine and big pharma the saviours of the western world? It's obvious...if you get hit in the head you sit out and get checked. Sports is a game, it's not crucial to play with injury. In fact it's a programmed response for slaves to adhere to and be one of the pack.

 

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