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For soccer star Lori Chalupny, concussions have created confusion about her health
Last winter at a U.S. training camp, she was bumped from behind during an exercise, and while falling, was struck in the head by a kicked ball. After resting for two weeks, she said she felt fine, but upon resuming practice, began suffering headaches "that wouldn't go away."
The USSF medical staff grew concerned, she said, and took a closer look at her records. Echemendia reviewed her case and "told me I should retire," she said. "It was an unbelievable shock, to think that I would never be able to play again."
With her symptoms dissipating, however, Chalupny sought other opinions and, she said, was examined by multiple concussion specialists who told her she could resume playing.
"I can't say they didn't have reservations," said Chalupny, who, since shifting to the left side of the back line from midfield for the national team, has become one of the best in the world at her position.
"I know that I am not invincible and I don't want to take chances, but [the doctors] were pretty positive. If any of them had said no, I would've stopped."
In the spring, Chalupny began her second year with WPS's St. Louis Athletica. Six games into the season, after the club folded, Atlanta took interest in signing her. First, though, the Beat wanted to learn more about her past head injuries.
"We were somewhat concerned and had a long talk with her," Beat General Manager Shawn McGee said. "She was cleared by six or seven doctors before she saw our doctor and we were satisfied that she could continue to play."
Chalupny, however, did take precautions. "It's in the back of my mind," she said. "I'm not doing 2,000 head balls in practice."
Through the remainder of the season, Chalupny said she did not suffer any setbacks, a claim supported by McGee. The USSF, however, has stood firm.
"I don't have any bad feelings toward them and I'm grateful for the opportunity given to me," she said. "There is part of me that wishes they would reconsider. It's a difference of opinion. They're looking out for my best interests - I get that - but I feel fine."