These days, even a tap on the head can cause high school senior Niki Popyer to lose consciousness. Headaches are her constant companion, she's not allowed to drive, and she can't concentrate on her school work.
Her predicament can be traced to a series of concussions she has suffered since she was in seventh grade - the first seven from playing basketball and five more that have been caused by incidents as innocuous as bumping her head on a car door.
The plight of Popyer and other young athletes whose lives have been altered by this often misdiagnosed and misunderstood injury is the target of a House bill that seeks to fund education, diagnosis and treatment efforts.
"No doctor told me to stop playing - they'd say, 'Sit for one or two days and you'll be fine,'" Popyer said at a hearing Wednesday hosted by the bill's sponsor, Rep. William Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
Afterward, she said that she has to avoid any situation with potential for a collision. "I can't ride the train because they're afraid I might bump into somebody."