Shannon Walsh has posted a two-part story about Marquette soccer player Scott Miller and his decision to forgo his senior season due to concussions. The stories have been posted on TopDrawerSoccer.com (LINK to Part I) and are very informative, well worth your time. Here are some excerpts;
In April 2010, Miller collided with a goalkeeper against Northern Illinois(m), leaving him with a broken nose and concussion. Though Miller experienced symptoms of the concussion, he decided not to tell the team medical staff or coaches, and was cleared to play ten days later against Milwaukee(m) in the Wisconsin Cup.
“That was the biggest mistake of my career at Marquette,” Miller said of his decision to play against UWM. “I told the team doctor and coaches that I felt normal and would be ready to play. Going into the game against UWM, I did not feel well but decided to play. It was one decision that if I had done differently probably would have saved my career.”
Underlining the need for awareness and education, Miller exemplifies exactly the stigma associated with concussions. In retrospect the decision to “play through it” was poor one, as it has ended his career, however him telling the story can be a good thing. More players, coaches and parents need to understand all of this. As much as the Marquette medical team does; athletic trainers and doctors working in concert to help with concussion issues, one can easily see how all the work that is done can be circumvented in a very small time frame.
“Concussions have been something that we minimized several years ago and now as we get more evidence, we’ve recognized the seriousness of them,” said Dr. Carolyn Smith, Team Physician, one of many athletic trainers, physicians and specialists who treated Miller in the days and weeks following his concussions. “Now they’re taking that information and trying to be more preventative and proactive, and that’s a great thing. We still have a long ways to go in our knowledge base with concussions, but at least we’re acknowledging that it exists and that we need to do something and do it better.”
The decision was not an easy one for Miller; when dealing with concussions the entire support staff of the injured player must be a sounding board. This includes the coaches, and in this case the coach has the proper perspective (LINK to Part II);
“We’ve had some ups and downs in the program, but that was probably one of the most painful conversations we’ve had. We’re still very emotional about it,” said Bennett. “I’m sad, but I’m happy that Scott came to this conclusion on his own. I would have loved to have Scott Miller back as captain and as central defender or midfielder – it would have put our team over the top. But there’s a point in which you cut off your thirst and quest for winning and consider what’s good for the individual and his long-term career. The world is his oyster, and not just in a soccer sense.”
The final take home message of Miller’s story is simply this;
The men’s soccer program looks to use Miller’s concussion experience as a learning opportunity.
“I think Scott can be a great role model in a number of ways, including the importance of reporting,” said Dr. Smith. “Soccer is great here and now, but for most people, it’s not going to be their livelihood. Using his experience here is going to help him be a good mentor and bring a greater understanding to other athletes that are in a similar position.”
More and more stories like Miller are becoming available for us to think about. A common theme among all of them is the improper management of the initial case of concussion. As Miller stated above, he did not explain/tell those entrusted with his safety what was actually going on, thus leading him to play on. In other cases the overwhelming stigma that has gotten out of control leads players, young individuals, to make the wrong choices.
Concussion are not the bogeyman, they are an inherent risk of sports; correct management of the injury from the start will reduce the number of Scott Miller’s out there.
Thanks to @soccer_coach for passing this along