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Forest Hills student recalls concussion side effects

10:23 PM, Aug 12, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Forest Hills student recalls concussion side effects

Jacob Brackmann suffered a serious concussion at the start of his senior year at Forest Hills Northern.

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Football practice began this week at West Michigan high schools, but unfortunately, some young football players will likely end up with concussions this fall.

A 2012 study by The American Journal of Sports Medicine found 47.1 percent of concussions in high school sports come from football.

Another study by the Journal of Athletic Training found there are approximately 67,000 diagnosed concussions in high school football every year.

A former Forest Hills Northern player knows how serious concussions can be.

One of Jacob Brackmann's first catches of his senior football season last fall would be the last time this two-sport athlete ever caught a ball again.

 "I asked my teammates probably 100 times if we won or lost that game," he said.

The next practice, during a scrimmage, he took an unusual hit.

"I was spinning, so spins your brain which can make the concussion worse," he said. "What I was told is that I was kind of spinning to the ground and my hands got locked into the tackle with the ball. And my head banged into the ground, back, backside, so my head kind of snapped and hit the ground."

His mother, Dawn, got the call from an athletic trainer. She says his actions that day would end up foreshadowing the next five months.

"In the shower he kept washing his hair, we think he ended up washing his hair about 5 times. By the time he had rinsed it, he had forgotten he washed it," she said.

The side effects were devastating.  It took him five months to even begin to recover.

"I forgot my whole summer at one point," he said.

In the beginning, she says every 10 seconds he would re-ask the same question.

"It was kind of hard at times to see the flatness in his eyes, he used to have a sparkle," she said. "My husband and I would look at each other and say, we just want our son back."

The excruciating headaches soon followed; Brackmann couldn't make it through an entire day of school all fall.

"I couldn't focus. You're trying to read a paragraph and it takes me eight times to read the same paragraph."

By winter, doctors told him his brain still wasn't healed enough to play basketball.

"Basketball is my love and passion, and when I did not get cleared to do that, it was almost depressing news."

So the athlete found a competitive outlet in the water.

"Swimming was almost a total blessing and ended up being something that was absolutely amazing as a result of the concussion I would have never done," he said.

Brackmann went to state in the 50 freestyle and with his relay teams and turned into an all-state performer. It was perhaps the perfect ending to an emotional start.

Dawn Brackmann says she doesn't know if she would have let her son go back to basketball. She says she's glad she didn't have to make the decision.

 "I would have loved to get back out there, but I realize the long-term affects probably weren't worth it," said Jacob.

"If it had been less severe I would have been tempted, I definitely would have been on the basketball court."

"I would tell parents, you know your child, you know where your child's life goals and dreams are, and you need to make decisions for them that are ultimately going to help them down that path," said Dawn.

Everyone's recovery time varies. Brackmann is feeling much better. He's heading to the University of Alabama this fall on a full-academic scholarship.

 

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