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Short version: Son gets hit on helmet and no one noticed, he didn't mention, surprise concussion.

Very long version (with lots of detail in hopes it helps someone else):

Saturday afternoon, 4th game in 40 hours, doubleheader, first game in decent heat, and the men are all tired.

Bottom 6, home team is leading. 2 out, suicide squeeze, son (catcher) tags runner out. It's a decent collision, with son leading in with knee to block the plate, and everyone hears a hit, but based on how they looked (in real time and later on video), everyone assumes it's runner helmet against catcher knee. Son pops up immediately and shows the ball. Games goes on, batter strikes out.

Roll to top 7, son is in the 3 hole. First two batters create two outs, son ends up with final out looking. Not something he normally does, but so

He gets in car, we chat, and within the first few sentences he says "I could barely see the ball that last at bat. It felt like I only had one eye open." Me - "You ok?" Him - "Yeah, I think the pollen may be getting to me again. And I'm just tired as heck." We talk about the play at home, he laughs at how he "buried the guy", and he says he can't wait to see the play.

Hit hotel for shower, then food, then head home (5 hr drive). He scarfs down food and falls asleep within 20 minutes of getting food. He's a good sleeper (I have dozens of pics of him asleep in car to/from games), but even this was a bit surprising in how fast he fell asleep. Texted wife to that effect, "He's wiped out from this weekend".

After 90 minute nap, he wakes up, and we shoot the breeze the remaining 3 hours home. Arrive at 10, he lays out on couch and sleeps from 10:30 - 12:30. Again, not a big surprise. Gets up, goes upstairs, sleeps till noon. A little surprising, but not massively.

We chat on the phone Sunday after he awakens, he's a bit groggy sounding, but attribute that to his voice. He eats, goes to hit, and when I get back home, he's asleep again on the couch. Sleeps from 4:30 - 7 that evening. When he awakens, we chat. Says he felt really out of it at hitting, wasn't seeing the ball well. Keep discussing, and he says he thinks he's just tired. We also talk about maybe pollen. Gets homework done on couch while I'm sitting there as well, has the usual teenager lack of attention at times, nothing big. No complaints.

Monday morning, he calls me while he's driving to school to ask me to check his contact prescription. I confirm it, and he says everything just seems really blurry. I tell him that it may be allergies? I'll look it up and see about getting some Alaway.

At home I watch the video another dozen times. I can't see any point at which his helmet makes contact with the other player, though the ump does block it a bit. But his helmet is soooo much higher than the sliding player, it doesn't seem possible. So I text son to that affect, and tell him that I was worried about this maybe being a concussion at first, but don't see how it could be. Probably just allergies kicking up here.

He texts back "His helmet DID hit my helmet, right at the bottom. I know because my jaw and teeth were sore afterward. IDK if it is a concussion issue or not but his helmet did hit my helmet. If it is a concussion, it would explain a lot of the things I felt yesterday."

I ask him to explain/list, please.

"Dizziness, slower processing of speech, going to sleep Saturday night felt like I had that boat affect where you're moving, having to think more about my responses, and then I feel like a little bit of eye strain and soreness. I can't see like normal."

Great..... "I'll check you out at 10."

On the way to ER, he says that he almost fell a couple of times going upstairs to his room, and he was stumbling some at school. And that a conversation he had with another player at hitting on Sunday took a looong time for him to even process.

ER visit yesterday resulted in preliminary diagnosis of concussion. Doctor visit today confirmed. Expects to be back within 14 days, but doctor said he actually thinks he'll be ready for a game on the 9th.

In hindsight, with all the information at hand now, it seems very obvious. But combining a (basically) invisible hit with a young man who's never had a head injury before, and this almost slipped by us. He would have been playing last night, and I hate to think of what could have happened.

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One thing I never liked about travel is how many games a team might play in a day. Fatigue leads to potential injury. Colleges (young men) and pros (fully grown men) don’t play more than two in a day. Who decided four games in a day is good for growing kids? I’m guessing it has something to do with “follow the money trail.”

Thanks, @anotherparent .

@RJM, this was HS, not travel. 7 PM game Thu, 7 PM game Fri, 10 am game Sat, 1 PM game Sat. So closer to 42 hours.

As for travel, it's seemingly rare to play more than 3 in a day nowadays, and that's only at the champ level where (most) teams that make it that far carry enough players to alleviate some of the fatigue. And spreading out WWBA games to where it's only 1 per day seems to generate frustration at the added cost for hotel costs.

All that said, we are asking 15 year olds to play 21 innings in a day at times. I suspect that the MLBPA and the team doctors would have some choice words to say about that if they were asked to do the same.

With head injuries it’s not always how hard, but where and what angle. In 14U I was watching pregame warm up. A kid that would eventually play P5 D1 was in center lazily going back for a fly the coach hit a bit too hard. The ball hit high on the wooden fence and ricocheted down at an odd angle. As the ball came down it clipped the centerfielders temple. He never missed a stride, picked up the ball tossed it to 2nd.

In hindsight sometime during the day he did tell a couple teammates the ball rang his bell a bit. He gets up the next morning and has no clue who he is. He’s forgotten how to do math – which is a big issue at end of school year testing. His doctor thought getting him around his teammates and coaches might be helpful, although playing was obviously off-limits.

What struck me was it didn’t seem like the same person. His walk and speech cadence were different. Not different as being injured, different as in all the little things in life that weigh us down and lift us up were gone – just wiped clean.

It all came back, and he continued to excel at school and baseball, but very scarry as it defined how fragile we truly are. On a funny note, his favorite treat had always been root beer floats. His dad makes him one and after sucking down about half he says to his dad, “Root beer and vanilla ice cream? Who’d have thought of that combination, dad you’re a genius!”.   

I am very pleased your son is on his way to recovery. My 14 yo son had a concussion from receiving a late hit in a football game last fall. He seemed fine after the game then the headaches came later that day and stuck around for a few days after.  I can handle injuries to the bones, joints and muscles but this is one area that I am constantly concerned about given how broad the symptoms are and so little is known about this injury and long term affects. 

@JucoDad Great post, and can def relate. Son was just flat/monotone on Sun evening through yesterday afternoon. He told the doctor "This isn't how I normally talk or act, but it just seems to be comfortable right now." Wasn't really acting fun/funny as usual. By last night he was starting to act more like his usual gregarious and silly self.

@2022NYC Same, same, same. How worried should we be when he first gets into the box again, or takes a foul ball off his helmet.

@Senna posted:

Thanks, @anotherparent .

@RJM, this was HS, not travel. 7 PM game Thu, 7 PM game Fri, 10 am game Sat, 1 PM game Sat. So closer to 42 hours.

As for travel, it's seemingly rare to play more than 3 in a day nowadays, and that's only at the champ level where (most) teams that make it that far carry enough players to alleviate some of the fatigue. And spreading out WWBA games to where it's only 1 per day seems to generate frustration at the added cost for hotel costs.

All that said, we are asking 15 year olds to play 21 innings in a day at times. I suspect that the MLBPA and the team doctors would have some choice words to say about that if they were asked to do the same.

The thing is it starts at 8u and goes through travel ball. It’s why we stuck to local LL and CR sponsored tournaments and the USSSA Sunday DH league through age twelve.

Just wanted to post an update. He followed the return to school/return to sports protocol. Here's the approximate timeline, though everyone's journey may vary.

  • Day 1 after concussion (undiagnosed) - Vision was very blurred, fatigue
  • Day 2 after concussion (diagnosed) - Vision was worse, fatigue was worse. Overall demeanor was very monotone, no humor really. Unable to watch TV or use screens without headache. Most symptomatic day overall.
  • Day 3 - Vision improved, demeanor improved. Able to use screens by evening, but for only for short periods.
  • Day 4 - Vision improving, with blurriness and light sensitivity the only issues there. Returned to driving with me riding, and only on familiar routes. Fatigue improving, only 1 nap during the day
  • Day 5 - Able to use screens for longer periods, light sensitivity gone. Returned to driving on his own. Did bands, jogged, did light toss
  • Day 6 - Returned to school. Fatigue gone, blurriness barely there. Did full warmups with team at game except for swinging the bat. Able to stay up till midnight after game and finish a test that was due.
  • Day 7 - Blurriness remained, but still just barely there. Full throwing, hitting off tee/dad BP.
  • Day 8 - Vision normal. Full speed BP from machine.
  • Day 9 - Cleared for full return to playing.

The caution as a catcher is the next hard ding to the helmet.   I think it was Mike Matheney that had multiple concussions and then it was one foul ball too many that was the last straw.  Of course, he played MLB for 13 years.

Maybe playing another position for a bit is a good thing. Now you both know the symptoms and can identify when something is a little off.

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