15-year-old Georgia Carmichael is in the England U18 Kayak squad (ENTS) and last June won two Gold medals for GB Marathon at a World Cup event in Belgium.
She received a Sports Aid award from Katherine Grainger earlier that year. Ten days after the World Cup event she had an accident at school, a head and shoulder injury, then a 6-month nightmare began.
Her mother, Cindy, is writing to sports organisations and people across the country to tell them about Functional Neurological Disorder.
Here is what she has written:
“The A&E department she was originally taken to by ambulance after the first collapse accused her of taking drugs or excessive alcohol. When they found none in her blood or urine they sent her home, she couldn’t walk or speak.
Bisham Abbey Clinic were brilliant in their treatment of her once we had a diagnosis, which took more than 3 months to get, but they had to research it to find out more. It’s not always caused by psychological trauma as a lot of people seem to think, it can happen to people who push themselves to the limit and then have an accident or get an illness, therefore I think it’s important BC athlete’s parents know what it is.
FND is actually quite common but I had never heard of it and getting the right diagnosis and treatment is key but was incredibly difficult.
I am also writing to tell you that she is back in her boat, training 6 days a week with her squad and that her sport has catapulted her recovery in many ways. Training has helped her nervous system re learn normal muscle movements so that things can ‘click’ back into place.
Georgia could not walk unaided for 6 weeks, collapsed twice, had a type of paralysis from the neck down after her second collapse and spent 10 days in the John Radcliffe Hospital under the neurologist team. Most of this could have been prevented if she had not been constantly diagnosed with CONCUSSION.
It was one of the physios for the GB junior judo team who was treating her shoulder who kept telling me something was wrong, and it was not concussion. She saw a BC physio who contacted a team doctor as she too was concerned, and, on his advice, I took Georgia to a private doctor in Oxford. The important point to make here is that GP’s, private or otherwise, cannot refer to a neurologist anymore. They are considered ‘Super Specialists’, it must come from a consultant, none of the GP’s, hospitals or the private sports doctor were aware of this fact, so their referrals were ignored. They needed to refer to a paediatric consultant first, if any of us/them had known this we could have saved 3 months of being told my daughter had concussion.
Now that Georgia is well on the way to a full recovery, although she still has headaches and cannot write with her right hand, I am on a mission to raise awareness of what happened to her within the sporting community.
We were told by a senior neurologist at the John Radcliffe hospital that FND is 60% of what they see in teenagers referred to them. It’s more common in girls, can be common in high achievers, either physically or academically, and is usually caused by trauma, in Georgia’s case a bad head injury caused by a fall at school so soon after the physical exertion of the World Cup event in Belgium. It was a marathon, so the race lasted over 1.5 hours and it was 32 degrees.”
As well as the letter, Cindy has sent a short video and information leaflets encouraging sports organisations to post on their websites and pin up leaflets on noticeboards. She wants sports doctors and physios to learn as much as they can about FND, especially as it was sports that had a very positive influence on Georgia’s recovery.
FND Action would like to say thank you to Cindy for doing such a great job of raising awareness and congratulations to Georgia for getting back in her boat and fighting the FND fight so bravely.