My Concussion Story

Sophia Kofoed

Who Am I?

My name is Sophia Kofoed, a Senior at Miramonte High School. I am a voracious reader and love lacrosse. Over the eight years I’ve played, starting at the age of 8, lacrosse has given me a voice. It has taught me leadership, commitment, and teamwork. I forged friendships that can only be created through absolute trust among team members.

What happened?

During my Freshman year, I was having a blast playing for my high school team. In a game against our rivals, I sustained three concussive impacts within a span of a few seconds. I was accidentally hit twice in the head with a stick. After the second hit, I blacked out. I was told that my head snapped back onto the turf. I don’t remember what happened next, only disorienting colors and lights. My mom told me later that all the players sprinted over to me and helped me up and that I was crying.
I do remember my coach’s concerned face after I stood up. Everything felt distorted and distant from me. I remember telling her I was fine and could go back in the game. Her eyes met mine and I found I couldn’t focus on her face. She insisted I leave the field and get checked by the sports medic, who reassured me... I was okay and probably had a minor concussion.

Afterwards...

That night was the worst night of my life. Something was clearly wrong with me, and I couldn’t control my emotions. The next morning, my head throbbed and disjointed thoughts pierced into my mind, stinging like yellow jackets. Even though the curtains were closed and the lights were turned off, the hint of sunlight wracked my brain like a tennis racket pounding a ball at the wall. Every footstep I heard as my family tiptoed around the house was amplified, and drove me to the point of tears. My mind was a dark place of chaotic unrelated images and words clashing in discord.
Something was clearly wrong and I visited the ER, and then a concussion doctor, and Neurologist. She told me that I had a brain injury (Severe Post Concussion Syndrome) and would be out of school and lacrosse for the rest of the year. I could not think straight, or understand basic conversations. I had no control of my emotions, and my head pounded incessantly. I could not read, write, look at screens, listen to music and I was confined to my dark room for months. To go from being an excellent student and athlete to hardly able to function caused me to dip in and out of depression which had never been an issue in my life before this experience. The only thing that kept me going was my family and the gifts and kind words from my teammates, teachers, and friends. There were times I thought I would never recover, and remain trapped in the jail of my non functioning mind.
I am 17 and I understand now that I lost over a year of my life.

My recovery process...

It took me two years to fully recover. I recall the always present fatigue. Upon re-entering school Sophmore year, I spent a chunk of each day sleeping in the nurses office at school. Previously loving school, classes became something I dreaded as I had somehow lost my ability to remember something as simple as multiplication tables. After nine months, I vividly recall weeping as it was the first time since my injury that I could actually understand a graph displayed in science; of course followed by the typical pounding headache. But this gave me a signal that recovery was actually a possibility.
Though those two years were the most difficult of my life and consisted of mostly tears and visits to an array of care providers, I learned many life lessons. I was able to completely transform my diet, which is something that will serve me for my entire life.
Everyday, I am grateful for the gift of my brain.

Today...

Unlike a broken leg, after a concussion, I still endure lingering symptoms like minor headaches and fatigue. I will always be highly susceptible to receiving concussions and brain injuries from minor hits. Those two years will stay with me forever. When I started to recover, I realized that if I had been wearing headgear, the severity of my brain injury would have been seriously decreased or even prevented. The option of headgear was available to me before my injury, but the benefits were never pointed out to me. I just kept playing without wearing headgear. Today, I am an advocate for concussion awareness and headgear in girls lacrosse.
I never want another girl to experience what I have gone through.