WAKE FOREST — Franklin Academy senior Emerson Schulz knows just how much trouble a concussion can cause, and she’s working to make life easier for students who are recovering from the injury.
Two years ago, Emerson’s younger brother, Nolan, was playing soccer when a classmate accidentally kicked him in the head. Nolan knocked the back of his head against a goal post, and then his temple hit the ground.
But Nolan, who was 10 years old at the time, got back up and went about his day. At home, he complained about feeling sick but didn’t know to mention his injury.
It wasn’t until a trip to the doctor the next day that the full story came out. Nolan’s recovery took months, making it difficult for him to keep up in school. The family ultimately needed to hire a tutor to help him stay on track.
As she watched her brother’s struggle with his injury, Emerson, now 17, decided her community needed more information about concussions and a way to help those recovering from their injuries.
“It’s so common,” she said. “There’s a big need.”
She delved into research about concussions and earlier this year founded the Concussion Awareness Recovery Run, a group designed to raise both awareness and money for those recovering from concussions.
The group will hold its inaugural race Nov. 16, and proceeds from it will help pay for tutoring for students who fall behind in school because of a concussion.
Nolan, who’s now 12 years old and in seventh grade at Franklin Academy, said he’s glad to see Emerson raising awareness about concussions, especially if it makes things easier for kids who are recovering.
“It’s good because when I went back to school, people didn’t always know what was happening to me,” he said.
Emerson said she hopes information about concussions reaches a variety of people: young children who may not know that it’s important to tell an adult if they hit their head; older students who may not want to report a concussion if it means not playing sports for a time; and parents and teachers who need to be on the lookout for concussion symptoms.
The website for the group provides information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the symptoms of concussions, from headaches and nauseau to trouble concentrating and irritability.
It also highlights the fact that recovery can take anywhere from several days to months.
While this year’s run will be part of Emerson’s senior project, she plans to make the race an annual tradition.
After seeing what happened to her brother, Emerson said she’s more cautious while practing gymnastics and dancing, and is quick to tell her friends to be careful, too.
“You only have one brain, so you have to take care of it,” she said.