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Rugby player Michael Lipman in tears as he discusses horror symptoms of a concussion: The Project

A former rugby star has broken down in tears after opening up about his struggles with dementia after suffering 30 concussions on the pitch.

Michael Lipman, 42, played over 200 games and ten caps for England in his long career but had to retire in 2012 due to short-term memory loss and a severe headache.

The flanker recalls the games as “wild and obviously violent” but he’d never realized the heavy toll the repeated headbutts took.

‘I loved it. I wanted more and more and more,” he told The Sunday Project.

“Sew me together and get me out of there… that’s all I thought. Get me out of there.’

During the candid interview, the London-born but Sydney-raised footballer was shocked to see his hand was bleeding and couldn’t remember how it happened.

Shortly after he started crying, he explained it was a constant struggle to remember “why you are who you are.”

Former rugby international Michael Lipman (right) is pictured with his wife Frankie. He now suffers from dementia

Former rugby international Michael Lipman (right) is pictured with his wife Frankie. He now suffers from dementia

“Every time I’ve been knocked out on the field, all I heard from the doctors and the physios right there, as I lay unconscious, they asked me three questions (when I come to).

“What day is today? Who are we playing against? I remember those questions so vividly because it has happened to me so many times.’

At 21 he moved to the UK from Sydney to begin his 11-year professional career, playing for Bristol and Bath from 2001-09.

His England debut was against the New Zealand All Blacks. But what should be a cherished memory is a blank slate.

He was hit so hard he remembers “absolutely nothing” from the game.

When Lipman returned to Australia to play for the Melbourne Rebels, his concussions became more frequent and symptoms worsened.

The former rugby player (pictured in the middle of a game for Bath in 2009) suffered more than 30 concussions during his playing career

The former rugby player (pictured in the middle of a game for Bath in 2009) suffered more than 30 concussions during his playing career

“I could tell something was going on, but I didn’t show it and I didn’t say anything,” he said. And no one asked if he was okay,” he said.

The aftermath of his most recent concussion lasted nine months and Lipman had to give up his football boots after more than 200 professional games.

“I’ve just had too many bumps on my head and, you know, I’ve had maybe 30+ concussions in my career,” he said at the time.

After a whirlwind romance with his partner Frankie – the two were engaged, married and having babies in quick succession – strange incidents began to happen.

One day, Lipman disappeared from a lunch, then came home a few hours later and was looking for a 6 p.m. breakfast.

He doesn’t remember the incident, but Frankie’s mother does. She was afraid.

dr Rowena Mobbs (pictured), a neurologist who treated Lipman, said she was

dr Rowena Mobbs (pictured), a neurologist who has treated Lipman, said she was “quite shocked at how poorly he scores on several areas of thinking.”

Lipman also struggled with his real estate job, trying to remember the names of buyers and sellers.

He turned to drinking to numb the feelings of confusion.

“Drinking alcohol masked every feeling I had. I was basically deaf for a very long time,” he said.

Then a British lawyer contacted him about a class action lawsuit against World Rugby and the fog finally started to clear.

The attorney said he believes Lipman has CTE.

CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a type of dementia that can impair memory and decision-making, and cause impulsive behavior and poor judgment.

Lipman could no longer work and they had to sell their house and move out of Sydney. Frankie, who also had a child from a previous relationship, returned to work.

Michael Lipman (pictured) has written a book called Concussion with his wife Frankie

Michael Lipman (pictured) has written a book called Concussion with his wife Frankie

At one point in the Channel 10 interview, the former footballer started looking down at his hands in confusion.

His wife asked, “Are you okay? You’re bleeding.’

“I do not know what happened. What happened?’ he asked. ‘What am I bleeding from?’

Frankie explained that this had happened to him several times before.

“Because what he’s going through affects his balance so Michael always has a few pitfalls or stumbling blocks… it’s not uncommon for us to find blood on the sheets.”

Lipman (pictured) has admitted his future health is

Lipman (pictured) has admitted his future health is “like a ticking time bomb”.

dr Rowena Mobbs, a neurologist who treated Lipman, said she was ‘quite shocked at how poorly he scores in several areas of thinking.

“As far as I can see, its pattern of decline continues. And it is extremely sad for him and his family.

“We just don’t know what exactly the future might hold. All types of dementia unfortunately get worse over time,” she said.

Lipman said he was startled when he first heard the word dementia being used about him.

“I didn’t believe it. I’ve been in denial for a while, you know. I was like… No, it’s not happening.’

But now that he knew what people with dementia go through, it explained a lot of things that had happened to him, like the forgetfulness and sometimes soiling the bed.

Lipman was capped ten times at international level for England between 2004 and 2008

Lipman was capped ten times at international level for England between 2004 and 2008

“Often times I put on such a brave face and — but deep down there’s this little thing in my — you know, in my gut, that just says, ‘You’re a complete and utter burden on your family and society, and you are an absolute waste of space.”

At this point, Lipman broke down in tears and had to stop the interview to collect himself.

Then he said bravely, “This needs to be talked about. Because then someone else could be going through the exact same thing. Those are the realities.’

Lipman said his mission is to actually help others “drive positive change in recurrent head injury across all facets of contact sports in Australia. And worldwide… that’s my goal now.’

Michael Lipman (pictured) was forced to retire after playing more than 200 professional games

Michael Lipman (pictured) was forced to retire after playing more than 200 professional games

Frankie said she didn’t want rugby banned. “We want the sport to thrive in the future.

“But we want to see appropriate changes to make it safer. In theory, this is a preventable disease,” she said.

“Is enough being done? Definitely not. Does more need to be done? Absolutely.’

Lipman lives day by day but admits his future health is “like a ticking time bomb.” Eventually it will explode. And we don’t know when.’

Michael and Frankie Lipmans wrote a book called Concussion.

Lifeline Crisis Support is available 24/7 on 11/13/14.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-11178345/Rugby-player-Michael-Lipman-tears-opens-horror-symptoms-concussion-Project.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Rugby player Michael Lipman in tears as he discusses horror symptoms of a concussion: The Project

Bradford Betz

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