GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Corey Koskie was a fan favorite and a force to be reckoned with when he played third base for the Minnesota Twins. After six years in Minnesota, and a stop in Toronto, Koskie landed in Milwaukee in 2006. But that stop marked the beginning of the end for Koskie after he suffered two concussions within days of each other. Those concussions proved too powerful an opponent for Koskie.
Concussions forced Koskie to retire. Today, he's back in the Twin Cities running a fitness business and says he is doing well.
Recently KARE 11 sat down with Koskie and two other young athletes to talk about the very real impact of concussions.
Corey Koskie - former Minnesota Twins player
"I remember thinking, okay, if I hit the ball which way do I run? I was trying to, really trying to focus on, okay, which way do I go? Three, four days went by and I still had the same kind of symptoms, my balance was off. I remember walking in Walmart and feeling like I was falling off to one side, and I just would get really tired and fatigued. And that lasted for about a week. And then there were conversations after this that I just don't remember. All of a sudden I couldn't, I had trouble talking on the phone. I couldn't carry on a sentence. I remember just really struggling to speak. And it was like, okay, 'a p-p-plane ride.' It was really tough."
"No, no, you miss the game, because I missed playing the game. I missed being out on the field."
How do you feel? How does your head feel?
"I'm fine. I have no issues."
No issues with lights or loud noises?
"No. If I get a headache it has to do with running a business. You know, that's where my headaches are."
Kayla Meyer - New Prague
Headaches are an everyday part of life for 16- year-old Kayla Meyer of New Prague. She started playing hockey at the tender age of four. But two separate falls during practice in 2009 changed her world.
"I always have a headache. It's always there it just depends on how severe it is. On the pain scale of one to 10, eight is kind of my normal. Ten is the emergency room, and I've been there five or six times. I don't remember what it's like to not have a headache."
How has that affected your life?
"I've missed a lot of school. I've missed a lot of stuff with my friends. I missed the black-white dance. I tried to go to the homecoming dance. I stayed there for 20 minutes and went home crying."
Why did you have to go home?
"It was so loud, the noise, the DJ, everything. It was just way too loud and I couldn't handle it so I had to come home."
How many doctors would you say you have seen in the two years since your concussion?
"Well, I've seen at least four neurologists. I've seen neuropsychologists. I've been to at least six physical therapists. I've seen cranial therapy chiropractors, acupuncturists. I've been all over."
What would you want people who are watching this to understand about concussions and your story?
"They're serious things, they're not just, oh, I hit my head, my team needs me, I need to get out there, it's the championship game. Your health is very, very important. You need to take care of yourself because your body is the only one you have. You do not get a second chance."
What do you anticipate a year from now, five years from now, for you?
"I guess I just always picture myself with a headache."
Matt Hovila - Bloomington
"19-year-old Matt Hovila of Bloomington got his first concussion back in the fourth grade. The injuries led to problems in middle school, and there were more concussions to come - eight by the time he graduated high school. Those injuries ended his dream of playing college basketball and made classes at the University of Minnesota more challenging. Through it all he remains optimistic.
We asked him to share some of the things he discovered as he dealt with the concussions.
"Well, middle school, about sixth and seventh grade, I had a lot of behavioral issues, big changes in what I was before. A lot of it had to do with frustration, with not knowing why I was acting so much differently. And, that just kind of snow balled into...I couldn't stay in school more than an hour a day. I kind of had to re-teach myself how to read. I had a lot of visual changes. But, I grew out of that and kind of got back to my normal self right as high school started, thankfully."
So how are you today?
"I've gotten a lot better than I was a year ago at this point. I still have pretty big problems with fatigue, concentration, memory, still some visual changes as we deal with the migraines and headaches as they come and go throughout the month. It's just a roller coaster ride really. Looking back on it, knowing what we know now, we should have done things differently. The biggest thing is not to go back too early. As hard as it is to sit out, it's really not worth the potential risk."