ETX student athlete recovering from 3 cheering concussions

According to the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, concussions account for 96% of sports injuries.

TYLER, Texas – Addison Bockover doesn’t take her good days for granted.

“A good day means I’m not so sensitive,” she explained. “Every day is different; I feel a tingle with every noise and it’s physically painful, but today I’m not as sensitive.”

As a junior in high school, Addison never imagined that her health would prevent her from doing what she loves most: sports.

“She was a softball player since she was 7,” said Addison’s mother, Lori Bockover. “She’s played in travel leagues, local leagues. She loves softball. I mean … she was a healthy girl … the brain was great.”

Addison’s athletic ability and talent got her noticed by the cheer coach who tapped her to try out for the team.

“She was always making it exciting to be a cheerleader,” Addison added. “So when there were a few girls out, he came to me for that opportunity.”

Addison jumped at the chance, tried out and made the team.

“I really enjoyed it. I loved the football games and the pep rallies,” Addison said.

Then things turned around. Addison’s excitement was quickly put aside after suffering multiple concussions.

“A girl fell on top of me and hit my head which was the first concussion,” Addison explained. “The second concussion, the exact same thing happened. The same situation and then the third one.

“On the third we were doing a dance for a pep rally and they told us to get on the floor and I hit another girl in the head,” she said. “I blacked out for a few seconds.”

Addison said he suffered three concussions for cheerleading in one year. But after her third and final concussion, Addison began having seizures. He flew to Littleton, Colorado to see Dr. Shaun Kornfeld, a functional neurology physician, at the Plasticity Center.

“We were seeing difficulty with his balance, difficulty with eye tracking, and difficulty getting an adequate amount of blood flow to the brain,” Kornfeld explained.

Kornfeld performed laser therapy on Addison to help increase blood flow to his brain.

“We saw a significant decrease in the prevalence of their seizure activity,” Kornfeld added. “She was going through about 100 a day. The symptoms Allison is experiencing match many of the athletes we’ve seen who are amateur athletes as well as professional athletes.”

In the professional world of cheerleading, the glitz and glamor of high kicks, stunts and spins can overshadow the high risk of serious head injuries.

Cheer coaches at Trinity Valley Community College know this risk all too well. They emphasize the importance of taking the proper protocols after a concussion.

“I was fine, like making some kind of basket and I just fell on somebody’s shoulder,” TVCC coach Molly McLeod said. “So I got caught and everything. It was the way they hit my head. I started this whole protocol probably like three weeks before I started doing anything related to animations.”

Coach Vontae Johnson, who comes from the football world, said he takes cheerleading injuries just as seriously as he did playing football.

“They’re both very dangerous, you know, they could be very dangerous if they’re not done right,” Johnson said. “Both ask for sports and for accidents to happen.”

The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research reports on both high school and college athletes. The number of direct catastrophic injuries for female cheerleaders was second only to female football players. However, according to the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, concussions account for 96% of cheer injuries.

“If I ever had another concussion, my brain wouldn’t be able to function there,” Addison added. “It would be extremely dangerous for me to play. I was heartbroken. I was angry that this happened to me. Especially as young as I am.”

Addison was on the cheer squad at Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic School when these injuries happened. The school declined an interview to discuss Addison’s injuries, but said in a statement that “our coaches and faculty staff are fully committed to the safety of our students and all protocols.”

Although Addison’s daily seizures have decreased significantly, she is currently being homeschooled.

“If I feel a tingling in my back or something, I have to watch it because that means the seizures are going to happen,” Addison explained.

Addison wants to use her voice to rally for something important.

“(Concussions) happen in all sports at all levels. It’s very important to report them, and it’s very important that you take it seriously,” Addison said.

The community has set up a GoFundMe page┬áto help with Addison’s medical expenses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concussion protocols in all sports, click here for more information.

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