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Tom Jenkins: Life after Concussions

Bre Burton

Bre Burton

Caleb Davidson, Sports Editor

Tom Jenkins is a junior at East that has played football since the age of five. Jenkins began his football journey playing PAAL flag football and worked his way up from there.

Jenkins’ father was a major influence in the decision for Tom to play football. His father played in college at Franklin University and was also invited to participate in the NFL Combine.

Jenkins’ brother, Ben, also had a heavy influence on the decision for Tom to get a start in the sport. Ben started in kindergarten, however he stopped his eighth grade and freshman years to run cross country. After that, he proceeded to play both his junior and senior football seasons at Columbus East.

The plan was for Tom to take the same path and play all the way through high school, but that idea just recently came to an abrupt end.

Over the course of Jenkins’ life he has accumulated six different concussions. His first incident was at seven years old during a four wheeler crash.

“I was riding and going up a hill and the last thing that I remember is the four wheeler coming back and falling on top of me. After that the rest is pretty fuzzy until I got up,” said Jenkins.

The latest incident that Jenkins was involved in was playing football at his house with his brother and their friend Jared Clark. Jenkins went to catch the ball when he was pushed from behind and ended up hitting his head on a wooden beam.

Jenkins didn’t think much was wrong other than that he had hit his head. He attended football practice the next day and his head hit the ground for the second time in as many days.

“I didn’t say anything because I didn’t wanna miss any practice. It was stupid, but I wanted to be there with my team,” said Jenkins.

After his second hard head collision Jenkins began lining up in the wrong spots and looking different to his teammates.

“I kept lining up in the wrong spots, apparently I was whispering to my teammates, the turf looked blue and I felt like I was on roller coaster,” said Jenkins.

It was obvious at this point that something was wrong and Jenkins was taken to the hospital. The injuries resulted in Jenkins being in a spastic state for about five hours that involved shaking uncontrollably.

In the following days he could neither walk or talk.

He was diagnosed with a severe concussion, and even given the news that there was a chance he wouldn’t walk again. Most important to Jenkins was the news that it was very likely he would never be allowed to play contact sports again.

“I was upset. I teared up in the  Emergency Room because I knew it was out of my control what was happening to me now, and I might never play the game I love again.”

After weeks of treatment and time spent in the hospital, Jenkins was finally able to go home. Miraculously, he made a full recovery mentally and physically to the point where the head injuries have little to no effect on his everyday activities.

Talk has even started about the possibility of Jenkins being able to play football next year as a senior.

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