Road to Recovery: The story of Nikolas Wood

  • July 26, 2021
  • Nikolas Wood is a 28-year-old varsity rugby player and current student at the University of New Brunswick, with previous experiences playing rugby in Victoria and working as a professional firefighter in BC. Nik has been involved with rugby as both a coach and a player since his teen years, and it was the team environment and passion for championing people that led to his return to university, completing a degree in interdisciplinary leadership studies at UNB. Wood's new-found goal is to help the next generation become leaders.
  • Q: What was a specific experience Nik had with concussions?
  • Although suffering a few minor concussions over the years, the focal experience took place in 2014. During a game playing for the University of Victoria's varsity team, a head-on-head collision resulted in an immense loss of balance, and Nik was forced to roll himself quickly off the field before the play came back toward him. After failing the sideline test with the athletic therapist, he was encouraged to see the doctor at the University who oversaw the varsity athletes. After the incident, many short and long-term symptoms arise, which interrupted Nik's studies to the point that he decided to withdraw from university. To this day, Wood struggles with some of these symptoms. It wasn't until four years later in 2018 that Nik returned to playing contact rugby.
  • Q: Looking back, would he have changed anything prior to this experience?
  • With the knowledge of concussion that he has now, more strict precautions would have been taken after original hits and Nik would ask for more attentive care. Engaging in more cognitive baseline testing with the team therapist prior to the season would also be of interest. On top of that, making sure his mouthguard was top of the line and/or recommended by a specialist.
  • Q: How has this experience affected Nik's life today?
  • Nik has learned and understood more now about mental health and growth. He has become grateful that the experience has provided him the ability to empathize and walk alongside others who are experiencing the same feelings, and ultimately lead him to pursuing his passion. These experiences have offered him perspective and empathy, while excelling as a professional firefighter, and winning the Maritime Rugby championships as a member of the UNB Ironmen. The road to recovery will have its roadblocks, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.