On September 24th, 2020, our son, brother, and friend, Maconnell (Mac) Parkman took his life after fighting mental health issues that were related to a series of three known concussions he sustained in wrestling, football, and other concussive activities such as snowboarding in his freshman and sophomore years. After each concussive incident, they cleared Mac to return to the sports he loved but continued to suffer from what something now known as sub-concussive trauma through continued participation games and physical activities. As football and wrestling are back-to-back, long-season sports, Mac was taking part in activities that were unknowingly affecting his brain for almost 10 months a year. The continued exposure to sub-concussive trauma prevented the proper healing process necessary for a developing adolescent brain and led to the development of mental health issues, such as depression and possible severe psychosis which Mac decided to bravely hide from his family, coaches, and friends to shield them from sharing his pain. As the pain and anguished increased, Mac continued to fight bravely until his mental anguish resulting him in deciding to leave this life behind.
Today, millions of young Americans like Mac undergo concussions, primarily through participation in sport-related activities. While most of the focus regarding sports concussions focuses on the “acute” or sideline related protocols, they place little or no attention on the long-term follow-up of concussed athletes, particularly those with two or more concussions or multi-sport athletes. The resulting knowledge gap in the long-term impact of sports-related concussive and sub-concussive trauma to the adolescent brain prevents parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and medical practitioners from making informed decisions regarding sports participation, providing long-term follow-up evaluations and is contributing to the increasing amount of American athletes with hidden or identified psychological disorders that can lead to serious self-harm, aggression, and even suicide.