Faced with concussions, amateur athletes looking for solutions to end their suffering

Faced with concussions, amateur athletes looking for solutions to end their suffering

Comme Julien de Bonnières, les amateurs victimes de commotions sont souvent livrés à eux-mêmes. D.R.

Pour les amateurs touchés par une commotion, difficile de dépister et de trouver les bonnes solutions pour se soigner. Mais des pistes existent désormais.

This September 22, 2021, was a training evening like any other for Julien De Bonnières, with his rugby club in the Paris suburbs. For this licensee within the French Federation of Corporate Sport, everything was about to change.

In a tackle, the young man collides head to head with one of his teammates. Both players are a little groggy but trot back onto the field.

"At the time we felt pretty good, I felt while running that I wasn't very stable but nothing more." It was the next day that Julien felt the real symptoms of his concussion. "It started to impact my work, explains this 28-year-old energy performance engineer. I'm on a computer all day, I was very tired, I had headaches. It got worse the following week."

Slowed cognitive abilities

Julien then consults his general practitioner who prescribes him painkillers. Without effect. On the contrary, his condition worsens with nausea and dizziness. He is sent for a scan which reveals nothing. 10 days after his concussion the young man saw no improvement. Worse, he feels that things are getting worse and worse. His work is also affected. "My director, who knew that I had had this shock, told me to stop. I went back to my parents in the Basque Country for two weeks to recharge my batteries and get away from Parisian life.

Without any improvement, the young man consulted a neurologist who works with Aviron Bayonnais. After a neuropsychological assessment the verdict is in, he suffers from a slowdown in his cognitive abilities because of his concussion.

Also read: "It changes a person", the powerful testimony of Marie-Alice Yahé on the effects of concussions

Mid-November, Julien is just beginning to see the sources of his illness. After several cognitive rehabilitation sessions with a speech therapist, he attempted to return to work part-time in January 2022. Without success. "I lasted 10 days, he breathes. All my symptoms got worse. I couldn't continue."

"I was diving"

Julien then consults Doctor Chermann, a neurologist specializing in concussions and who, with Doctor Malafosse, carried out the first study on photobiomodulation at the Pompidou hospital (read our February 18 edition).

"We tried medical treatment which did nothing. I started to get depressed. I didn't want to see anyone anymore. I was diving,” admits Julien. He resumes his tour of doctors, psychologist, ENT, sleep doctor… The bright light and noise trigger terrible headaches and gradually cut him off from all social life.

"I’also tried alternative medicine. Everything that could allow me to have 1 or 2% less headaches but nothing worked. It was hard but I was motivated to find solutions. That’s what helped me keep my spirits up,” continues Julien.

"I'was a bit lost"

Almost two years after his concussion, the amateur rugby player still experiences daily hell without finding solutions to his problems. Despite the support of his company and those close to him. It was not until September 2023 that he found a medicine that allowed him to relieve his headaches. A first victory. "I’was then sent to a treatment center for mild concussions, in Garches, to undergo cognitive rehabilitation again. I see progress from week to week,” he assures.

Beyond the physical problems, Julien also had to fight alone to find solutions. Resolve administrative problems, incur personal expenses, find doctors, specialists… "During all this time I was a bit on my own, I had to go get information. I was a little lost, I was missing a frame. My doctor was also a little distraught."

"I lacked information as an amateur, he continues. Continuing to work made my symptoms worse. We are not aware. I was lucky to have an understanding company that maintained my salary throughout this time, the insurance also helped. Otherwise I would not have been able to live financially."

He has now invested in the Alerte Commotions association (read below) to testify and try to help amateurs who are in his situation. Two and a half years after suffering a concussion, Julien De Bonnières is gradually managing to regain a social life but he has still not returned to work. This will be his next challenge.

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