On top of the world. Until one too many concussions

Jonathan Boland went from star quarterback to state inmate. Did concussions play a role? Boland suffered four concussions in his 12-year football career in Oregon, leaving him mentally and physically changed. “What’s portrayed in these robberies is not my son,” his mother Renee said.

Student athletes aren’t the only ones getting concussions — and needing classroom help

Due to three tragic cases showing the impact of recurrent concussions on the sports field, many states now have protections for kids in sports. But often forgotten are the kids off the field. In today’s story, InvestigateWest and Pamplin Media Group explore four programs that provide brain injury education for the teachers and school staff who help kids in the classroom.

Colorado’s concussion approach combines education, medicine, a team approach

The death of a high school football player after back to back concussions inspired a Colorado school psychologist to develop a holistic program to ensure that any student with a concussion had a support team and an action plan involving their parents, coaches, medical professionals — and teachers.

Oregon schools fall behind on returning concussed students to classroom

When her six-year-old son Westen suffered a fall in September leading to a concussion, Stephanie Shimp-Taylor turned to her school for help. In need of accommodations for her son, Shimp-Taylor found herself under pressure for her son’s low attendance. Although Oregon law has measures in place to support student athletes, it’s often up to schools to fill in the gaps in the classroom for non-athletes. Oregon is offering an online course for educators called “In The Classroom After Concussion.”

A Painful Pendulum

For Sue Casey, wife of former football player Randy Casey, the link between concussion, her husband’s future behavior, and his eventual death will also never be certain. But it’s one that she attributes to the numerous concussions he suffered in his early career. Such risks to young athletes are mostly unexplored. And as reporter Kerry Eggers writes, “Although their stories typically don’t make headlines, they — and their families — are left wondering about how all those collisions on the gridiron impacted the rest of their lives.”

Clash of Craniums

Increased concern about brain trauma in youth sports puts soccer at a confounding crossroads. As athletes, parents and coaches look to limit head contact from their games, soccer enthusiasts are debating headers. They’re a dramatic part of play. But are they necessary?

Injured and isolated: A triple blow to the head and Ireland Gomes was out

Ireland Gomes spent most of her seventh-grade year in sports sitting on the bench, sidelined with a severe concussion. Her recovery took more than a year, and she still struggles with reading speed and comprehension, headaches and neck pain. Her parents now support more concussion education and awareness.