Curtis Baushke grew up in Tennessee and was a very gifted soccer player. In college, he wrote a paper detailing the multiple concussions he suffered in soccer and the effect they had on his life. He was 24 when he passed away in 2014. After his death, researchers at the Boston University CTE Center determined that he had stage 2 (of 4) Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Curtis’ family is sharing his story to honor his legacy of advancing concussion education and CTE research.
Who was Curtis Baushke?
- God given soccer talents
- Love of fishing and the outdoors
- Gift of meaningful sports knowledge
When his troubles started?
- Multiple known concussions
- Ruptured disc in lower back
“CONCUSSIONS – It is not just the pros that have problems!”
By Curtis Baushke - 2009
Concussions range in significance from minor to major, but all share one common factor…they temporarily interfere with the way your brain works. They can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination. Most concussions are caused by some kind of blow to the head. Concussions don’t always result in loss of conscientiousness. Oddly enough, most people don’t even black out but this was not the case for me.
I’ve been playing soccer since I was five years old and in my 14 years of playing I have had two major concussions and two mild concussions, all of which I blacked out for more than 10 seconds. My most severe concussion was when I was fourteen and playing in a regional soccer tournament in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I was playing fullback and defending our goal, when I went up in the air to win the ball from an opponent. WHAM, the guy in front of me went up at the same time but instead of bumping heads, he put an elbow right smack into my nose. I completely blacked out for what I thought was 20 to 30 seconds. When I finally woke up, I was looking up at the faces of our trainers. I could see my reflection in one of the trainer’s sunglasses. My nose was broken and resembled something like a “Z” shape and my white jersey was covered in blood.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse than that experience but another bad concussion would find me in my sophomore year of high school. For our psychical education class we were required to complete a six week bowling program. When we arrived at the bowling alley, I went to my normal lane and started using one of the house’s bowling balls. Than another kid in our class came up behind me as I was lining up in the lane and told me to give him that ball. I ignored him because they were all house balls and everyone had an equal right to use any ball at the alley. The next thing I know the kid had picked up another ball and swung it at the side of my head. I collapsed on the lane and blacked out for a few seconds. When I regained conciseness, there was a burning feeling in my knees and I collapsed again onto the floor. The doctors told my mother that I had suffered a mild to serious concussion. Concussions are not just a sports related problem; violence in society is also a source.
During my years of playing soccer and other contact sports I have “knocked heads” with other players, elbows, and soccer goals many times. Winning the soccer ball out of the air at mid-field or scoring soccer goals with my head on corner kicks was my specialty on my teams. My last and most recent concussion happened during my senior year soccer season. Once again I was defending our goal and went up for a header. This time a fellow teammate went up at the same time and the back of his head made contact with my forehead. I suffered another concussion, more blood and eight stitches above my eyebrow. The team doctor stitched me up on the sidelines, than I went back into the game because I was needed.
Since I have had many concussions, I started to read up on the research being done for pro athletes who have retired after suffering multiple concussions. Some of the effects have been long term…I am nineteen years old and have suffered four known concussions (when I blacked out), so this matter effects me. I would like to know if there is anything that is going to help me with my side effects. From my head traumas, my side effects have consisted of horrendous migraine headaches and terrible mood swings. With the most intense migraines it affects my eye sight and balance when I try to stand up. They hurt so badly that it makes it hard for me to speak or even stand. Starting my junior-senior year in high school during the day, I usually would have to take some strong medicine, lie down in a dark room and fall asleep hoping it would be gone when I wake up.
More research should be initiated for the study of concussions. It is not just pro athletes who suffer with problems. It should start with middle school sports all the way through high school and college. Allowing kids to play too soon after a concussion is very dangerous. We need to find out the actual damage concussions cause to athletes and ways to protect them. We should pay more attention to this problem.
There needs to be more research done to figure out what we can do! I feel this way now…what will it be like when I am older?
An Athlete Felled by Concussions, Despite Playing a ‘Safer’ Sport By Dan Barry, New York Times, June 21, 2015. A version of this article appeared in print on June 22, 2015, on page D1 of the New York Times.
Words written and posted on Facebook by Curtis' brother Ryan William Baushke the day after Curtis' death:
I am at a loss for words…last night my brother Curtis suddenly passed away in his sleep. I am devastated being that I lost my best friend, hunting partner and fishing buddy. There are always ups and downs in any relationship but no matter what I always could count on him and he would have my back. Curtis, I know you know this but I love you more than words can describe. You’re a man of integrity and courage that would give your shirt off your back for anyone. I will miss you every day, until I see you again in heaven. I know you’re in a better place and hanging out with the good Lord himself. May you rest in peace and the good Lord blesses your soul. I will never forget all the good times…see you next duck season in the blind. Love you always, your bro.
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