SWANSEA, SC (WIS) - For 15-year-old Jordyn Gill, her horses are her life.
She started riding when she was six and began barrel racing a couple years later. But, one day in the summer of 2015, her perspective changed
just a little.
"I was riding out here and my stepmom was out and I was on Moonshine," Jordyn said. "We were just riding around, I had just gotten on. I don't know if she spooked but she just started running and threw a buck and I was off of her."
She broke her leg and her elbow. A week later, doctors also diagnosed her with a concussion.
"First I didn't think I'd have a head injury. I didn't hit my head at all," Jordyn said. "So, it's a lot different because you can actually see the arm, and my leg was dangling so you could actually see that. And not seeing anything wrong with my head, it just felt funny."
She suffered headaches, light sensitivity, and was intolerant to heat. At one point, the light sensitivity got so bad that her Mom took the bandage off her arm to cover her face to block out the light.
Jordyn is one of a number of kids who have had a concussion, and who will have one.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, rates of TBI (traumatic brain injury) related ER visits increased for all age groups from the period of 2001–2002 through 2009–2010.
Dr. Lauren Matthews at Lexington Pediatric Practice told WIS the increase may be because more parents and kids know the signs and symptoms of TBI or
concussions, and are doing more reporting.
"Typically it will take 7-10 days to fully recover from a concussion, and a second hit could lengthen that out to weeks or months at a time," Dr. Matthews explained.
Symptoms of a concussion include headaches, nausea, confusion, clumsy movement, and even personality changes.
Matthews also said the jury is still out when it comes to kids and concussions – most of the research on CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is on professional athletes, like football players. CTE is a neurodegenerative brain disease that's found in people who have been repeatedly exposed to head trauma.
"That research focused a lot on football players and their hits," Dr. Matthews said. "We don't know exactly what's going to happen to kids. We know that there's some cognition issues, early dementia, things like that, so we want to protect kids as best we can now."
Education is key, Dr. Matthews said.
"I think it's important to talk to kids and let them know how serious this injury is. We talk about concussions all the time, but I always like to talk to the kids
and tell them exactly what happened: 'Your brain is bruised, your brain is injured.' And just like you get a bruise on your arm or leg, it's going to take a lot of time to heal," Dr. Matthews said.
Both Jordyn and her Mom, Sandy, want parents to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms. For Jordyn, it took months of recovery and watching her trainer ride her horse before she could get back on. But, now she's back racing Moonshine, and she couldn't be happier.
"It was scary," Jordyn said. "But you really just gotta put your leg in the stirrup and get on."