In light of Concussion Awareness Day on September 20th, MM27 Ambassador Kyle Rhodes took to Facebook to share his personal battle with a head and neck injury suffered during the 2018-19 season.
For those of you that have been through head and neck injuries, you know they can take you straight through hell. And if you haven’t, I really hope you never have to. That was what my world felt like for three months: absolute hell. Vertigo and dizziness, exhaustion, feeling like my foot was falling 6 inches farther than it actually was every few steps, not knowing where my body was in space (yes, I missed my mouth a few times drinking water), shaky hands, eyes hurting all the time, not being able to keep up, feeling like something tight was wrapped around my head all day everyday and like I couldn’t keep my big ass head on its axis, trying to walk down the street and turning my neck causing my spine to feel like it was going to collapse, and writing a grocery list and forgetting how to spell things like “tomato” (maybe that wasn’t actually a symptom 🤔) were just some of the things I endured. Anything and everything that made me who I was felt like it was gone. My body seemed broken, and when you’re an athlete, whether you know it or not, your body is your best friend.Kyle Rhodes
As awful as this was, the physical symptoms were not even the worst part. Week after week passed with me not getting much better than the week before and I started to lose my f***ing mind. After 8 weeks of hell, I saw a concussion specialist who told me it was a vestibular issue and that I had anxiety. No shit I had anxiety. In just two months I went from being in the best shape of my life to having trouble walking in a straight line. Throughout all of this, I was having constant communication with my guy Mike Puglia back here in Richmond. Mike did EVERYTHING a man that was halfway across the country from me could do. I remember calling him in as calm way as I possibly could after going through five weeks of not knowing what on earth was wrong with me and he could give me answers I needed. Because of Mike and my team’s therapist things had gotten a lot better, but after three months I still wasn’t right at all. I left during our teams playoff run because I needed help. I needed to get my life back. At that point I didn’t even know if hockey would be in my future, nor did I even want to think about it. Mike refused to give up, however, and reached out to concussion specialist Dr. O’shanick, who recommended I see the guy in this photo: Clarke Tanner. Clarke immediately met with me and after some testing saw it as an issue with my upper cervical neck. To explain in the simplest way I can, the injury surrounding the tissue in my C2-C3 vertebrae had also caused my right inner ear vestibular system and nervous system to not work. After explaining to me what was wrong, he said “It’s going to take a lot of work but I have no doubt that we can fix it.” Not only did those words take a huge load off my chest, but it gave me HOPE. Three months of absolute hell had slowly, but surely started to turn around. He worked tirelessly with me, with us sometimes having almost four hour appointments together, getting my neck, core and nervous system all on the same page, refiring, wiring and waking up the parts of my brain that had shut off. Then I would follow his advice and put in countless hours on my own time at home.
Long story short, over the course of five months, Clarke gave me my life back. When I first went to him, I was a disaster. I was living in a world of fear and anxiety about my body and my future. Now I’m happy to say that I’m back to fully doing what I love. I don’t usually give a damn to tell the world about my problems but with #concussionawarenessday having been a few days ago and with me leaving to start my second professional season in a few days I couldn’t help but share a little bit of my story. I’m grateful for what Clarke Tanner and the Thrive Physical Therapy family have been able to do for me, for Mike Puglia for always helping me with my injuries, and the family and friends that had to deal with me through all of it. For anyone who is currently a professional in the health world or going into it, people like me appreciate everything you’re doing. And for those who have been through this type of trauma or are currently going through it, just remember it’s almost 2020. There is ALWAYS someone out there to help you so do whatever it takes to get that help. “If you’re going through hell, keep going!!!” -W.C.
Have a #ConcussionAwarenessDay story of your own? Share it with us here.