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Alex Danson: Attacking Recovery Head-On
After suffering a serious head injury over the 2018 holidays, Team England forward Alex Danson opens up about struggles with post-concussion symptoms ahead of her 2020 debut back on the pitch.
The mentality of an athlete tends to be “mind over matter”— the idea that one’s willpower can outweigh physical pain. But the truth is, head injuries are dangerous, lonely, and sometimes debilitating. Listening to your body and knowing when to take injuries seriously is key for any athlete.
For the past 18 months, that has been Alex’s journey.
For the 34-year-old field hockey star, 2019 marked the first year of her professional career she hadn’t played an international game. Her concussion left her temporarily unable to read, walk, or speak. While injury takes a physical toll, to many athletes, the mental aspect can be even more draining.
“I know, at the start, I certainly hid a lot of my symptoms or I was just convinced I could be okay,” she said.
As time passed, Alex knew she needed to communicate with her teammates to help them understand why she wasn’t showing up to practice, why she couldn’t keep up in conversation, or why she might seem more closed off by wearing sunglasses or headphones on the regular to regulate sensory stimuli.
Now over a year later, Alex’s experience has all but stopped her from getting back to the game she loves. The hockey legend is working tirelessly to overcome her post-concussion symptoms, recently re-joining her team at England’s Bisham Abbey training base in early January.
Along with her commitment to recovery, Alex has also become an advocate for the importance of specialized care in the early stages of a head injury. She believes there's much more to be done, and with her firsthand experience she plans to further raise awareness to support anyone silently struggling with symptoms.
Danson pictured above on her first day back at training after over a year out of the game. Get Danson’s XT 901 stick here.
For now, Alex takes her recovery day by day — staying optimistic and ready to hit the ground running with the support of her family, teammates, coaches, and specialists. Her sights? Set on returning to the pitch for the second season of the Pro League.
“You will get there. You don’t know when, but you will get there, and I know I will.”
We’re cheering for you, Alex!
Until then, brush up on some attack tips from the legend herself in Going 1-1 with the Goalie.