Kayla Wormsbecher - Dartmouth Women's Hockey
Kayla Wormsbecher is a sophomore at Dartmouth playing division I hockey and majoring in Engineering. This is her journey to being #New Tough and a proud Team Rep for Dartmouth for Concussion Awareness Week 2019:
“I got my first concussion early in the summer after grade 11. At that point, I was really unsure of what to expect. What I would go through both physically and mentally was a complete mystery to me at the time, simply because I didn't know how serious it could be, or really anything about it at all. Luckily, my first one wasn't so bad, but I soon sustained another later on in the summer that kept me out for just under two months. The season was about to start and it was my last season of junior hockey, so I wanted to make it one to remember, and it certainly was. It was…but, for the wrong reasons.
After coming back from my second concussion, I thought I was in the clear, until January 2017 when I was slashed in the head after making a glove save. Part of what made me so angry about it was that it was completely unnecessary.
This concussion changed my life. My symptoms were the worst they had ever been and my mental health hit an all-time low. My grades sunk and I lost both my interest in school and my perspective in life. The rest of the season came and went, meanwhile I was still depressed and unable to do any form of vigorous activity. Even if I tried, the aching in my head was too much to handle.
That's when I found "The Invisible Injury" blog and the Headway foundation. Everything written on that blog was relatable on so many levels and if it weren't for that I can honestly say I don't know if I would have had enough hope to keep trying to pursue my goal of playing Division 1 hockey.
Leading up to my first year of university at Dartmouth College, I was extremely nervous to get on campus and start playing again. The only time I was on the ice in the summer turned out to cause major headaches, so you could say my skills were a bit rusty. Being the freshman goalie was nerve-wracking enough, but to not have played hockey since January made it even worse. When I got my first puck to the head, I was terrified. I was distracted by the feelings/sensations in my head and my stomach, most of which I made up simply because I was almost expecting to feel symptoms again. After a few hours, I felt normal and got really excited because I knew I was in the clear. Nine months later and I am finally symptom-free and back to playing the sport I love.
If it weren't for the concussion awareness on the internet where I found the Headway foundation, I believe my experience wouldn't have turned out so positively. Concussion awareness is something that is overlooked, but so important. That's why I am so proud to be a team rep for this organization, and to see all the progress Headway has made, from an annual Concussion Awareness Week to the stickers on countless helmets. I do believe that if we continue to spread the word, we can help so many more athletes be safer and healthier.