TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

So, Whaddya Think?

My Opinion: Sports Benefits Outweigh the Risks


 Charles Ross



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4I was eighteen when I had my traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident in 1985. I was brought back to life once. I was in a coma for fifty days. I was in a wheelchair for one and a half years. I have memory problems. My body drew up into a fetal position. It took seven years of painful surgery and therapy and close to thirty procedures to straighten my legs, feet, arms, and hands. Thirty years later, my claw-shaped right hand looks like it has rheumatoid arthritis, but I use it. I write with that hand and walk with a cane in it. Three years after my accident, I went back to college. It took three years of difficult work to get my first Associate Degree and two years for a second in Mechanical Drafting, AutoCAD. I worked fifteen difficult years doing AutoCAD. Not one day since my accident has been easy for me. I am proud of what I accomplished, and I hope my story will be an inspiration to others.

Ross Jr., Charles Survivor 112415 copy

Charles Ross Jr. TBI Survivor

I know personally how tragic it is if a person gets hurt or killed accidentally, but that’s life. I don’t want to seem like life does not matter to me – because it does. (My life now is precious to me. I cherish each moment I have with family or friends. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, whom I never would have met otherwise, have blessed my life.) I am not heartless; I am very compassionate. I cry when I hear a tragic story of any kind. I know what life is. I know what death is. And I know what pain and suffering are.

I played three years of high-school football. Many guys were much bigger than I was, and I was fortunate not to get hurt. It was my third year of driving when I had my accident. Throughout my recovery, I looked back at the grueling football practices, and they football-player-tackling-cartoon-football-playersinspired me to go forward. What a sport does is teach sportsmanship, pride, respect, and loyalty, and it inspires one to do better.

Should I never ride in a car or even drive again because somebody has gotten hurt in a car accident? A baseball player may get hit in the head by a pitch, but now players have helmets to protect them. (There isn’t protective headwear in basketball, volleyball, tennis, or soccer, but maybe there should be.) Thousands of people end up in Emergency football_-_helmet_5Rooms or even in morgues because they fall while walking and hit their head. Should every man, woman, and child wear a helmet simply to walk? It seems just as foolish to end all athletics.


So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

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Comments on: "So, Whaddya Think? . . . My Opinion: Sports Benefits Outweigh the Risks" (10)

  1. Julia Sandidge said:

    Football should be banned. It’s inhumane to find sport the pain of others.


    • Julia Sandidge,

      Thanks for your opinion. I think as more and more people take off the blinders, that will be a possibility. It has been predicted to go by the wayside just like boxing, which never made sense to me.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  2. Michael and I JUST had this conversation! I asked him – knowing what we know now about brain injury and CTE….. and seeing what’s happened to him and how he suffers…. would he let our kids play a rough .contact sport if they asked. He said YEP he would. Me… no way! We are definitely on opposite sides of the fence with it in our house. I just couldn’t imagine putting my child at risk even if it is a low risk.


    • I understand totally, Michelle. Though both of our children did play soccer as youngsters, if I knew then what I know now, my husband and I both agree — we would not have allowed it. Just not worth the chance. So many people come out just fine, but I wouldn’t be willing to take the chance that my child may be injured for life.

      Thanks for reading and posting. I appreciate it.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  3. Sue Nowak said:

    As a high school athlete, a mom, and someone with a TBI, I definitely am concerned. I think the movie “Concussion” has brought about much discussion on the subject. I wouldn’t give up my friends or experiences I made by playing sports. I used to play basketball, volleyball and softball. My brain injuries were not related to sports.

    As a parent, my daughter caused me concern as the co-captain and a flyer on the Cheerleading Team. We knew there were risks but we warned her about them and had to let her take the chance. We saw on T.V. when accidents had happened to somebody else. Some precautions have been made in the sport. Mats are used now. They are only allowed to stack the team so high. They still throw the flyers as high as they can in hopes of catching her on the way down. It can be scary and exciting when you are watching from the bleachers. Sometimes I wish the flyers were made to wear helmets. It is a very dangerous sport. I feel we have to let our kids make their own choices, the Athletic Associations are the ones who should regulate the sports and be sure safety comes first.


    • Sue, there are always the risks, I guess. We as parents, (or as the person, him or herself,) must make the HARD decision. I can only hope that the decision made is not one that can alter one’s life. I’m glad that nothing bad happened to your daughter.

      Thanks for your response and for reading my blog. I truly appreciate it.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  4. Barbara Asby said:

    I feel that we can’t go through life being afraid of life itself. Isn’t that a huge disability with in itself? I live near an airport. Should I not live here – in fear of a plane crashing? Yes, I have a higher chance of a plane crashing on my home than most people – but I am not moving because of the risk. People should ride bikes. And I do agree with the author – people should drive and ride in cars, people should be able to have that freedom of choice to play sports. That’s what this country is built on “Freedom.” I understand the risks and the awful consequences that “may” come with it. But – not everyone gets sick or even die from these choices. Not everyone gets in a car accident, not everyone wrecks their bikes, or has head injuries in sports. The sport industries are improving on safety issues – and the public is becoming more aware of the dangers that are involved in choosing to play. We can’t stay locked up in our houses afraid of what the world has to offer – for what kind of life would we have then? Speaking of Freedom – should we now stop every man and woman fighting for our freedom – because we certainly have a lot of solders coming back defending our freedom with brain injuries. In fact – during their down time – they play sports. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell them to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Barbara, thank you for sharing your opinions.

      Of course, risk-taking is inherent in daily living and we all must make choices that fit our life styles.

      Riding a bike, driving a car, even with taking a step we are faced with possible harm. We all must decide if the possible risk is worth it. In most cases, it is.
      I guess what I question is is taking unnecessary risks a smart idea. Again, we all must make our own choices.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  5. Thank you Barbara, you stated exacted what I wanted to say. We cannot just live in our 4 X 4 cubical 24/7 for our entire life.


    • Hi buds5101,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate your opinion.

      I agree in all of our lives we will encounter risks. We must decide which risks work for us. I KNOW I will never free fall from an airplane or ride the world’s largest roller coaster. It’s all about making choices.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski

      Liked by 1 person

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