Off Balance: Special Report, Part V
Going On After a Lengthy Concussion Battle
by Kevin Moore/Special to CHN
I was a teammate of Jeff Teglia’s for two seasons at the University of Massachusetts. I interviewed Jeff three separate times over the course of his recovery from a concussion suffered on February 9, 2012. The first interview was on February 15, six days after being diagnosed. The second interview was on April 1, six days after Teglia returned from spring break, which coincided with the start of spring workouts. The last interview occurred April 30, four days after the completion of spring workouts.
Jeff Teglia participated in all of the spring 2012 workouts over the span of five weeks leading up to final exams. He was symptom free despite not feeling quite himself earlier this spring. Jeff still feels he is more carefree than in the past, but does acknowledge that he is much more in control than he was at the completion of spring break. Teglia’s concentration and study habits bounced back to his high standards, and his grades returned to his normal marks. When he received his grades for the semester, his GPA came in at a 3.838.
“Workouts went really good," Teglia said in spring 2012. "[Strength] Testing went well. I didn’t have any trouble on the ice the last couple of weeks. I got hit in the head a couple of times, nothing was wrong. No symptoms or anything like that. Everything’s be fine in workouts and on the ice.”
Moving forward, Teglia does not have any concerns for potential concussions in the future. He returned with no apprehension and he intends to keep it that way. “I do play a contact sport and I’m very active in general. I’m sure I'll have bumps and bruises here and there … nothing at this point is gonna stop me from doing what I do, and it's sort of the type of person that I am. I absolutely love hockey and sports, and just being active doing different things and stuff I don’t think it's gonna stop me at all.”
Last season, UMass changed head coaches, hiring former Vermont assistant John Micheletto. Jeff was free of any concussion symptoms and was largely healthy, only missing a few weeks with a back injury in December 2012. However, he saw action in only one game, a start at home on November 18 against Massachusetts-Lowell. In just his second start since and his Fenway triumph and first since his concussion last season, Teglia was pulled after three goals in the first 16:26 of the game.
He has since left the team to concentrate more on his studies.
During Kevin Teglia’s recovery from his football-related concussions, Jeff was in Omaha with the Lancers and then at UMass. Jeff was not able observe his brother’s symptoms, nor was he able to educate himself like his mother. His TBI education like many athletes is something that needs work. His own concussion experience was the best education he could get.
“Everyone has more room to learn, I think he has a better understanding and he knows it's not something to mess around with, it's not like a bump on the shoulder or a sore knee” said Mrs. Teglia.
Teglia’s battle with his concussion this season likely will deter him from being dishonest about the health of his brain if he suffers another concussion. However, you can never tell when the competitive spirit of an athlete will overtake his conscious.
“My frustration as a parent is there’s no way to tell if your healed or not, and children lie because they want to be out their doing their sport,” she said.
A mother can only hope that his experiences have changed his mind for the better.
“If you never go through it, you don’t really have respect for it," Jeff Teglia said. "I didn’t really respect my brother as much. Not respect him, but I didn’t respect the things he had to go through with the concussions, and now I feel like I appreciate that a lot more.”
Side Bar: My Thoughts
I have never had a concussion before, nor have I ever witnessed someone who I was very close with experience one. Reading about concussions does not give the injury justice. Watching my friend and former teammate Jeff Teglia recover from his concussion during my senior year was scary. The depression that comes with being forced away from your routine is something that never crossed my mind when thinking about someone who has to deal with head injury.
I admire the emotional toll Jeff had to go through during his recovery. It is something that do not wish upon anyone. UMass' athletic staff did a fantastic job handling all of my teammates' concussions over the course of my college career. Only at the completion of my story did I recognize the flaws in the system regarding the protocol when it comes to athletes and concussions. The flaws are not because of a lack of trying from the medical professionals looking after athletes, but because of the lack of knowledge and research that society as a whole has in regards to TBI’s.
I was one of the teammates who spoke up when Jeff tried to work through headaches in his second attempt at coming back, and only after having my eyes opened to what second impact syndrome can do to a person through a variety of videos I had viewed in a Sports Journalism class. I will never truly know what it is like to experience a concussion unless I go through one, but this experience has made me more educated and better equipped to help my friends and teammates make better decisions when it comes to head injuries.
Kevin Moore is a 2012 graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in Journalism with a concentration minor in Sports Management. This past season, he played professionally for the ECHL's Evansville Icemen. Most recently his piece on Princeton University's Baker Rink was published in the April 15th issue of The Hockey News.