Mariah Richins, a sophomore biology major from Ogden, was snowboarding in Brian Head with friends, trying to destress before finals week, when she fell and hit her head, causing her to have a concussion.
A concussion can be the effect of quick movements or hard impacts around the head which cause trauma to the brain. Professional football teams and other sports have been in the spotlight in recent years for several concussions, but many students suffer from concussions after hitting their heads during winter and spring breaks and traveling.
“I remember being really dizzy with a major headache,” Richins said. “It lasted for a few days, and some of my friends commented that I was pretty out of it.”
Richins said despite wearing a helmet the day of the incident, the damage was already done and became very apparent when she tried to study or take exams. She said she couldn’t take any time off of school because of the exams she had to take for class.
“I failed my calculus final, and I contribute that to the concussion,” Richins said.
Richins said for students off the field, there isn’t really a lot the university has to offer.
“I guess I could have gone to the Health and Wellness Center, but I’m not sure what they could have done for me,” Richins said.
Brynna Tanner, a junior psychology major from Phoenix, is using her degree to study the effects of physical trauma on brain functions.
“It’s a general trend that having more concussions or brain injuries can lead to poorer academic performance,” Tanner said. “It also has a direct correlation with [the] risk of mental disorders later on in life.”
Tanner said she remembers taking concussion tests before cheerleading seasons when she was in high school and said that’s what sparked her interest in the topic.
“When I first started looking into concussions, I read a lot about athletes and the dangers they face,” Tanner said.
Tanner also said in more recent years, colleges and professional football teams have come under fire for forcing their athletes to play through concussions. Some professional football players have reported severe mental illness later in life, Tanner said.
“I don’t think people understand how problematic concussions can be,” Tanner said. “Yeah, you might be wearing a helmet but that can’t protect you from everything.”
Tanner said while the active learning, active life motto is a great way to get an education, there should be more emphasis on where students can go and what they should do when injured.
“I think it’s important to let the active students of Dixie [State University] know that they’re not invincible and seeing a physician is important to their overall health, especially in the long run,” Tanner said.