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United Soccer Player Chris Rolfe Speaks Out About His Concussion

By: Allan M. Siegel

On April 30, 2016, D.C. United player Chris Rolfe took the field at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, to play his former team the Chicago Fire. Approximately 30 minutes into the game he took an elbow to his nose from defender Rodrigo Ramos. He brushed the hit off thinking that such a hit could not cause a significant injury. His competitive drive kept him in the game. During halftime he noticed a striking contrast between light and shadow. He felt fuzzy, as if in a dream, but he still pushed through and took the field for the second half. During the game he felt as though the ground was moving underneath him, but he stayed on the field until his usual relief time after approximately 70 minutes of play. With the pressure of competition lifted, he finally approached the team’s athletic trainer, who sought medical treatment for Rolfe. After a SCAT 3 test Rolfe was diagnosed with a concussion.

DC Brain Injury Lawyer

Rolfe says that at first he did not feel too badly but little by little the symptoms began to present themselves. The day after the game he and friends in Illinois spent a rainy day inside relaxing. The next day he tried to go for a bike ride and found that he could not concentrate on the road. He noticed every detail around him and could not filter out information. The bright sunlight felt like a stabbing sensation in his eyes. After returning home to Alexandria, Virginia, a few days later, he tried to drive to work at RFK stadium and felt like a sandbag was on the back of his neck. He had to be driven home by an intern and the team arranged post-concussion therapy with specialists.

For weeks he stayed inside of his home during the day with the lights off. He would even wear sunglasses inside to protect his eyes from the pain caused by the sensitivity to light. He could not read, drive, ride his bike, or look out of the window. Once while trying to shop at the grocery store he circled an aisle five times and wound up completely lost and overwhelmed with anxiety with no memory of what he came for. After six weeks the symptoms finally began to lessen, and he has since slowly started to return to simple activities, such as gardening and browsing the farmer’s market. He has even started to watch his teammates’ games on his widescreen TV, as for weeks his sensitivity to movement and light only allowed him to watch games on his phone. Rolfe admits that he has considered retirement as the result of this debilitating concussion, but he is far from making any decisions. For now he plans to allow his brain to heal fully, only then will he decide what comes next.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we have decades of experience representing clients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, and in particular have represented clients similar to Chris Rolfe who suffered TBIs through sports-related injuries. We understand the type of medical care and specialists needed to treat such an injury and the complexities that may be involved in brain injury litigation. Please click here to learn more about our experience handling brain injury cases.