Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Wife Opens Up About Living With Someone With Post-Concussion Syndrome

{ Editor’s note: My finger lingered for a while before hitting the “post” button on this piece. It did so, because it’s painful. It was written by my Wife, who I love very much. The physical pain of this fight is equally rivaled by the knowledge that your family is hurting along with you, and that you’re responsible for putting yourself and them in this position. It’s not easy to come to terms with that. But, if we’re truly going to be educational about the aftermath of concussion and ignoring your injuries, then this has to be spoken about. – Jay }

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By Jessica

I can’t focus today. I have to grade eight more papers and a week’s worth of discussion posts. Yet, here I sit staring at my macbook hoping that it will just magically happen. I’m sitting in my favorite coffee and tea café listening to the chatter of others and the espresso machine. It’s relaxing. I don’t have to worry about anything (other than the fact I’m not getting any work done).

Every day, I wake up with a knot in my shoulders. I’m stressed out before I even leave my bed. I bring a lot of the stress on. I try to do too much. I try to make others happy while often giving up my own simple pleasures (I really want a f’n latte right now but I’m sipping black tea with no sugar). Continue reading

Long Island HS Junior Speaks About Loss, and Perseverance in the Wake of PCS

By Kate Gaglias

kategThe saying “You will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” is absolutely true. Many of us athletes take our sports for granted- The grueling practices, running laps for no reason, constant games and tournaments. But the truth is no matter how much we say we hate it we will always have the love for the sport. Until, unfortunately for some of us all of that can be taken away in an instant.

My name is Kate Gaglias, and I am a junior in High school in Long Island, New York. I’ve played soccer since I was four years old, beginning in an in-house league like every other toddler. I joined a travel team when I was eight called the Longwood Twisters (which I am still a part of today) and played on the junior high team, JV team, and in my sophomore year I became a member of our varsity team. But since a young age my life has been changed by concussions. I received my first concussion in 2007 by getting a ball slammed to the side of my head by one of my teammates at an indoor practice. I didn’t feel anything until I got home, and after telling my dad (an athletic trainer) and my mom (a physical therapist assistant), they checked out my symptoms (the normal dizziness, sensitivity to light, headaches) and they all added up to having a mild concussion. I was out of school for a week, and when my symptoms were gone I returned to school like a normal 5th grader. Continue reading

Product Review: Neuro Bliss Tropical Citrus Lychee Lightly Carbonated Beverage

By Jay Fraga

neurodrinkAbout a month ago, I began to spot “Neuro-branded” drinks in odd-shaped bottles in area stores. Living with post-concussion syndrome for the last three and a half years has changed my life dramatically, as it has with scores of other people. Spotting a drink in the convenience store cooler with “Neuro” written on it alongside all of the other juices, waters, and sodas prompted immediate notice on my part. It took me a few weeks to actually look into the product, which I’ll blame on the bustle of busy life along with forgetting pretty much the moment that I walked out of each store that I wanted to investigate the drinks. Welcome to life with PCS, which, a good memory doesn’t seem to be part of.

I finally had an opportunity to grab one, toss it into the fridge when I got home, and read up.

For starters, the typical “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration” and “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease” markings can be found on the back of the bottle. Not surprising in the least. There is a further warning that the product “should not be used by children under 12” and that “pregnant or nursing women should consult their physician prior to use”.

There are four bullet points on the bottle:

• Helps reduce stress

• Enhances Mood

• Provides focused concentration

• Promotes a positive outlook

Wow. Lofty claims. How many of us sailing the uncharted waters of post-concussion syndrome could use all of those things to some extent? Answer? All of us.

Further examination of the bottle reveals a lengthy ingredient list highlighted by a “Proprietary Blend” of 238mg of the following ingredients: L-Theanine (L-TeaActive), Choline Alphoscerate (Alpha GPC) , Chamomile, and Phosphatidylserine. Bingo. For what it’s worth, I don’t recommend saying “Phosphatidylserine” as fast as you can three times and then clicking your heels. You could travel back in time and end up standing in the middle of a farm field in Kansas. It might be worth it if it brings you back to a time pre-PCS, but, I digress.

What do we know about these ingredients and how might they apply to our particular symptoms and situations as people living with post-concussion syndrome?

L-Theanine is an amino acid that I’m already well-familiar with using in my attempts to regulate mood. An active ingredient in tea (it’s found in tea leaves), L-Theanine acts to lower stress and promote relaxation. L-TeaActive, the standardized 98% type of L-Theanine found in this product, was recently classified and found to be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Choline Alphoscerate and Phosphatidylserine are both phospholipids involved with production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that’s important for memory. Both Choline Alphoscerate and Phosphatidylserine have been used experimentally for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease as well as dementia. They are generally recognized to boost memory, thinking skills, and learning (Choline Alphoscerate) and to improve thinking skills, improve attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder , improve depression, and to help prevent exercise-induced stress (Phosphatidylserine); all on an experimental basis with no love from the FDA, of course.

Chamomile. No surprises. This, too, is found in tea and is known for its calming properties.

The first sip of the beverage was alright. Truthfully, I didn’t care how this stuff tasted if it worked as it was billed. It tasted a little bit like a combination of all of the famous “Lemon-Lime” sodas out there. After about twenty minutes, I did notice a feeling of calm coming over me. Could it have been placebo? Sure- anything is possible, but I was pretty revved up beforehand and the difference was significantly noticeable. Additionally, I was certainly more focused as I felt calmer. Was that a linked effect of calming down or was it due to the ingredients that were billed as promoting focus? That’s a great question and I’m not sure that I care very much. The bottom line was that I felt calmer, happier, and less jumbled than I did twenty minutes earlier. A second bottle later in the same week produced the same effect. I’m sold.

I won’t be purchasing cases of this stuff, as I generally believe that too much of anything can’t be good for you, but I will certainly supplement with it here and there when I know that I can really use a boost. It’s important for me to highlight that I wasn’t paid to try or review this product and that the company that produces it doesn’t have a clue who I am. I’m just a guy fighting my way through post-concussion syndrome who is well-acquainted with many symptoms that so many of us look for ways to alleviate. My estimation of this product is that it does what it says and I hope that some of my PCS friends who are emotionally and cognitively-challenged might give it a shot and report back their findings. A rising tide floats all boats.

You can read more about this drink and others by visiting drinkneuro.com.

Jay Fraga

The Knockout Project