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How COVID-19 restrictions helped this Whitehorse woman heal from her concussion

Shannon Mallory, who sustained a concussion while mountain biking at Montana Mountain about a year ago, credits the COVID-19 restrictions for her recovery.

'It’s like the world slowed down to concussion speed,' Mallory said

Shannon Mallory says the slowed down pace of society when the pandemic restrictions swept over Yukon helped heal her concussion. (Submitted by Shannon Mallory)

It's been over a year since Whitehorse resident Shannon Mallory sustained a long-term head injury while mountain biking at Montana Mountain. She hit a rock and flew right over her handlebars, landing straight on her head.

"I was pretty fortunate that I just suffered a concussion, like it could have been a lot worse," she said, though adding "it was pretty much a year later until I was back to work and feeling myself again."

A image captured of Shannon Mallory seconds before she went over the handlebars of her bike while mountain biking on Montana Mountain in Yukon. She says she landed directly on her head resulting in a concussion. (Submitted by Shannon Mallory)

It's only been recently that her concussion symptoms —  including headaches, fatigue, neck pain and difficulty focusing — have significantly abated since the June 2019 accident, she says.

And she credits her improvements to the restrictions put in place when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

"It's like the world slowed down to a concussion speed," she said, pointing out how those with concussions are typically told to avoid large crowds, doing multiple activities or talking to multiple people at the same time.

"You're constantly trying to balance your activities of the day and what you can do and how it will affect you the next day," Mallory said.

Mallory, pictured above, competing in the Yukon River Quest in 2017, an over 700-kilometre canoe race from Whitehorse to Dawson City. She had to cancel competing in the 2019 race due to her biking accident. (Submitted by Shannon Mallory)

'Anything' to feel better

At the start of her recovery, she says she tried multiple ways to help heal her injury including changing her diet, massage therapy, vision therapy, acupuncture and wearing blue-tinted glasses.

"I was trying to figure out anything I could to make myself feel better," Mallory said.

While some methods helped a little, she felt she wasn't making much progress.

"I didn't have to decline invitations to do things," Mallory said. "It actually allowed me to just take a breather and recover."

Mallory said before the pandemic, if she did try to a attend a dinner party or event, she'd have to find a quiet place to lie down halfway through and then sneak out early to avoid explaining herself. 

But that changed when the world slowed down, and people were asked to stay at home and avoid social gatherings.

"I had to cancel parties I would regularly hold already due to the concussion. With the pandemic I didn't have to explain why everything was still cancelled," she said.

Mallory says she noticed her concussion symptoms were improving shortly into the pandemic.

Shannon Mallory says she feels grateful that she's making progress on her recovery. (Submitted by Shannon Mallory)

The restrictions also made it easier for her to avoid explaining to people why she couldn't attend some social functions.

She has also been able to get back to work, which thanks to the pandemic she now does from home. Since June, she says she feels "more or less recovered."

"Through the concussion, you know, I've met a lot of other people doing the same thing and some people are on year two or three [of recovery]," she said. "So I count myself very lucky."

While the pandemic has been a largely negative experience for many people around the world, Mallory says this is one bit of positive that came from it.

"You've got to kind of look at the positive side of what's happening in the world right now," she said.

"That's always, you know, on my mind is being green grateful for ... how I'm doing right now and thinking about those that aren't doing as well."

Written by Amy Tucker, with files from George Maratos

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