We have been following Lindsey Vonn’s injury from the onset (2/4/11), through her saying all the right things (2/10/11) and now with her pulling out of the rest of the World Championships (via Yahoo! Sports);
No longer willing to risk further injury as she copes with the aftereffects of a mild concussion, the Olympic downhill champion has decided to withdraw from her remaining events at the world championships.
That Vonn was cleared to ski when still reporting such symptoms drew a wave of criticism. If a second impact occurs before someone completely gets over an initial concussion it can have life-altering effects.
Vonn had a head scan the day after her crash but was never banned from skiing by the U.S. team. She passed a series of concussion protocol exams multiple times each day during the championships.
That information did not slip one of the foremost writers on this injury, Alan Schwarz, as he wrote an article rather critical of both Vonn and the US Woman’s Ski Team medical staff, rightfully so in this authors opinion. The last comments from Schwarz in the article read;
She added: “I believe we made safe decisions. I passed all the tests.”
Except the 70-m.p.h. ones that, with a tiny slip or flinch of a knee, could have changed her life. Athletes can will many things. They cannot change the dots on dice.
It is good there has been some accountability with regards to her injury, as we have shown she was listening to her body and others outside the inner-sanctum of skiing. In all the press releases it has yet to be shown that the medical staff advised her that even though she had passed all the tests, the fact that her symptoms remained (freely discussed by Vonn) should warrant her shutting down until all cleared.
Here in lies the problem, a purely subjective injury, “invisible” to most should be met with all the information needed. Sure, passing along decisions to the patient is not a ‘good’ course of action, but in this case if she had all the information from the beginning she most likely would not have made any runs after the initial injury; who knows, had that happened perhaps she could have been ready for later in the week. Obviously from my perspective she finally gathered all the necessary information and made the right choice. A choice that probably was not easy, especially after participating with symptoms.
Kudos to Vonn for taking a step backwards, realizing what needed to be done. Here is her response to the criticism via the Denver Post;
On Europeans journalists calling her a whiner:
I don’t have the concentration that I need to be able to compete at my best. It’s tough, a lot of people speculate a lot, a lot of people, at least in the European media, think that I’m making it up and I’m really not injured … I’m trying to explain my story and just tell people how I feel. I guess some people just don’t believe me.
On lingering effects of her concussion:
Outside of racing and skiing, I’ve felt really good. (Sunday) morning, I felt great, I had no symptoms, I cleared all the concussion tests and I was cleared medically to race. I struggle maintaining focus from the top of the course all the way to the bottom. I’m still having issues about three-quarters of the way down — I lose focus. It’s not 100 percent yet. It’s definitely gotten better every single day.
Read entire Q&A at above link.