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Former athlete focuses on concussion awareness

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KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Fall sports practices are getting underway, and a young Overland Park woman wants others to know about the lasting effects of concussions if you return to play too soon.

Kylee Bliss can see progress.

"It's very exciting for me to be able to have a visual representation of how far I've come," she said.

The lines she drew on a piece of paper in May didn't come together. They do come together now that she's had four sessions a week of vision rehabilitation.

Dr. Beth Bazin of Vision Development Associates says the rehab is helping Bliss "to isolate and direct both eyes to work in a more organized fashion."

Bliss says her vision trouble has impacted learning, including during her freshman year at the University of Kansas.

"I had a really hard time looking at the board or looking at a professor and looking down to write," she said.

Her struggle with sight began almost four years ago. She had a concussion while trying out for basketball at Blue Valley High School. She says she didn't give her brain enough rest.

"My biggest regret, for sure, is pushing through it and lying and saying I didn't have any symptoms -- I didn't have a headache -- just so I could return," said Bliss.

She did return to play, and suffered a second concussion two months after the first. It ended her basketball career and left her with post-concussion syndrome. The syndrome includes lasting symptoms such as blurry vision, headaches, anxiety and noise sensitivity.

"There's no sport worth risking not being able to see, not being able to remember, having a headache every day. There's nothing worth that," said Bliss.

She started the Heads-Up Foundation for PCS, and is spreading this message to young athletes.

"You can't push your brain. You only got one of them, and you really have to take care of it."

Nearly four years after her concussions, Bliss is taking pride in each accomplishment.

"I read 400 pages in three days like it's nothing and actually remember it and enjoyed it," she said.

Her focus is on a bright future. She will return for her sophomore year at K.U. where she's majoring in nursing.