James MacDonald Aerospace Engineering Major Studying

A recent Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study shows recreational athletes recovered nearly 23 days after their concussion. On average it takes seven to 14 days to recover from a concussion, according to the study, which was lead by NU assistant professor Dr. Prakash Jayabalan. 

University of Central Florida aerospace engineering major James Macdonald faces a more extreme case as he is still recovering from his previous concussion in 2015. Macdonald said the effects are impacting his future.

“As I am approaching graduation, how this has affected my GPA, my time in clubs, I couldn’t get an internship,” Macdonald said. “Right now I couldn’t get into a grad school because of my GPA. I may have to take a year off or do an extra year in college.”

The study looked at 128 students who experienced a concussion from 2014 to 2015. While there is not a lot of previous research conducted on college students’ recovery time, Jayabalan research shows how delicate the recovery process is.

“This is the first cross-sectional study reporting the outcome of concussions at a collegiate institution,” Jayabalan said. “The findings in our study highlight the difficult in treating collegiate students with concussions, due to both the academic rigors of institutions and the differing needs of student populations.”

Academic demands and medical support are only few of some of the issues when dealing with concussion recovery.

UCF Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Douglas Meuser said the sunny skies also may prolong the recovery.

“The things that we tried to avoid, especially here at the University of Central Florida, is number one, getting out of the hot sun,” Dr. Meuser said. “It isn’t that they have to hide out, but they have to avoid that stimulation because that tends to prolong symptoms.”

MacDonald said he believes if he could go back to the first week of his recovery process, things would be a lot different.

“I would have gone home - I would have left school and I would have gone home,” Macdonald said. “[My life] would have been much more stress free. No deadlines, no test to prepare for because it happened right before finals.”

Ultimately Dr. Jayabalan’s research suggests medical support for recreational athletes is the biggest issue with prolonged concussions.

Macdonald can no longer participate in contact sports. He said he continues to see a neurologist and hopes the side effects will end soon. 

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