RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Every school district in the Commonwealth now has a plan for dealing with students athletes who suffer concussions. A 16-year-old from Northern Virginia helped shape those guidelines. She suffered a debilitating concussion in a soccer match two years ago. As Sarah Rainey found out, the injury doesn't just take you off the field, it takes you out of action in the classroom.
"I love it," said Rainey. "It's my life!"
For Sarah, everything came to a standstill two years ago. She was a freshman in a high school game.
"I went up to challenge for a ball in the air and I was elbowed in the side of the head and I was knocked unconscious," she said.
She was only out for a few seconds; her coach even put her back in the game. It wasn't until long after the match the problems started.
"There was tremendous pounding (in my head) so I notified my parents. They felt it was best to go to the hospital," she said.
She says the did a CT Scan, but nothing showed up. It wasn't until she went a Children's Hospital in Fairfax that they were able to diagnose her.
"It took me four months to recover and two months to get back to a full day of school," she said.
We caught up Sarah on the VCU campus this summer. One of many schools she's thinking about attending. She says the pressures for a concussed athlete are enormous.. There's the desire to get back on the field.
"You definitely have pressure from your coach and your team. It's a competitive environment. So, if you're out nursing an injury for too long, it's hard to recover, to get back in the game and to get your starting position back," she said.
There's also the pressure to in the classroom. Sarah testified before a congressional panel on concussions and before the State Board of Education about the hardships she faced at school. Teachers not understanding her difficulty with the work load.
"I wanted people to understand that there is a lot of difficulty in the classroom with a concussed athlete," she said.
She says school districts need an academic plan, not just a sports related concussion policy.
"If you have that concussion team with the counselor, the teachers, the athletic trainers, than you can have a successful turnout like I did," she said.
Sarah is back at full speed and is even playing for an elite soccer team that travels the east coast. Rachel knows which college she's leaning towards, but she asked her not to reveal that information.
Here's a link to more details on Virginia's effort to make uniform concussion policies in school districts across the Commonwealth: http://www.sportsconcussions.org/laws-virginia.html
And a link to Sarah's testimony for the House panel on sports concussions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPq-dX-Lc6M&noredirect=1