Wrestling Concussion Aftermath



Concussions in wrestling are a concern, they happen less often as other sports, but when they do there is a small window for the athletic trainer to determine if the injury warrants removal.  In the amateur sport of wrestling the head is both exposed and sustains frequent contact, why we don’t see more is amazing (there has to be a reason).  That is not the point of this post, rather an instance of a concussion and its uncertain aftermath.


Demond Davis, a high school wrestler in Georgia was continuing his exceptional career and closing out his home meets with a senior night match, when it happened;

The day of the wrestling match, Demond had been texting his mother to see if she was able to leave work early and make it to his match.

Davis is a single mom who works hard to support Demond and his 13-year-old brother. But that night, the seniors on the wrestling team were going to be recognized in a special half-time ceremony and Demond really wanted her to be there.

Her phone rang at 6 p.m., but this time it wasn’t Demond.

It was the frightened athletic trainer.

Demond had been hit hard. His opponent from McIntosh County Academy had reportedly grabbed his left hand and thrown Demond’s left shoulder hard into the mat. He was rattled by the illegal move, but after being checked by the athletic trainer, Demond went back in for the win.

He got into position, and for the second time Demond was thrown hard into the mat. But this time he took direct blows to his head and left shoulder.

Something was really wrong. An ambulance was called. Demond’s season was over.

His mother rushed to the school where all he could do was communicate with impromptu sign language, he had been hurt real bad.  As we have highlighted on this blog, since the injury is SO subjective the information gathered by the athletic trainer did not warrant the removal of Davis.  Granted the record shows that he DID NOT hit his head in the first injury, we all should know you DO NOT have to hit your head to sustain a concussion, if the brain case is rattled enough the cascade of events will begin.  In this case Davis’s bravado or delayed symptoms led to his return to the match.  The second time his brain was jarred a more severe reaction occurred, forcing the athletic trainer to make the proper and prudent response of calling for an ambulance.

Jenel Few of the Savannah Morning News continued the story about Davis and his mothers questions, a lot more questions than answers.  Including being told that due to insurances he would not be able to get inpatient rehab, and the cost of care would only be partially picked up by the school district.  All the while the single mother of an outstanding wrestler can only hope and hide her true emotions;

But the Davis family has hope, and a Tuesday appointment for a rehabilitation consultation.

“He had so many plans,” said his mother. “But here we are.”

Tears welled in her eyes and her voice began to quiver.

“Ma! You OK?” Demond shouted.

She wiped away the tears and said, “I’m OK.”

“OK,” Demond said.

This is not about what is right and wrong in this situation, rather it is about everything we should be EXPECTED to know.  From the injury itself all the way through recovery.  We are becoming more aware the injury and trying to prevent it (as much as possible), however more knowledge about management of this head trauma need to become clearer.  I will leave you with a quote in the article from Dr. Gerry Giola about recovery;

Giola recently testified before the U.S. Congress about the need to regulate the way schools handle head injuries. He said schools should have plans for their students’ treatment, recovery, return to the classroom and to sports. Students must have ample time to rest their brains before they return to their sports and academics, he said.

Students who return to their studies too soon after an injury often have headaches, can’t concentrate and become unusually moody.

“The key is that you don’t want the student to have a second injury before they recover from the first one,” he said. “That compounds the problem and it takes longer to recover, and kids can die or have permanent damage.”

3 thoughts on “Wrestling Concussion Aftermath

  1. akryan August 26, 2013 / 02:45

    The reason that there are fewer concussions in wrestling is that there really aren’t that many hits to the head. Looking at from the outside that may seem surprising, but it’s true. There’s a lot of contact to the head, but little of it is in the form of strikes. You’re not allowed to. In a tie up, guys will be head-to-head, which will cause cauliflower ear (I have it), but they aren’t butting like rams. It’s not like two football players slamming each other at full speed. You’re also taught how to fall in wrestling, so you rarely slam your head even when you’re taken down hard. When you go for takedowns, you are attacking the legs and body which have a lot more “squish” to them than other parts of the body. The mat itself is softer than most other playing surfaces. Overall, the sport emphasizes pressure much more than impact. I’ve been involved in wrestling most of my life and in all that time I’ve only seen a handful of kids get a concussion. In eight years I’ve only had one kid get a concussion as a coach.

    • Dustin Fink August 26, 2013 / 07:08

      You do realize you don’t have to be hit in the head to get a concussion, right?

  2. John January 31, 2016 / 18:20

    Yes, but at the point that concussions happen without impact there are many other instances throughout the anyone’s daily routine that can and do cause the ‘non-impact’ concussions-everything from running into a door, jarred in a crowd from behind, uneven pavement or misjudgment of a step to sitting heavily on a hard surface. Compare that to ‘non-impact’ concussions in wrestling, and you can’t really warrant the kind of precautionary concerns for student safety that would incite pulling kids from a sport that is at the bottom of the concussion causing list of contact sports. Those who fly more often are at a much higher risk of dying in a horrible way, but those who rarely fly have 100 times higher chance of not dying from flying. Increased risk comes from frequency of the occurrence. Training and improved refereeing can decrease those occurrences. I think judgment gets clouded when winning takes precedence.

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