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Going on IR right choice

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By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / October 15, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - All Mike Wright knows is that 2011 is over, the second straight season that has ended early because of a concussion.

Any decision about his playing career won’t be made until he’s feeling better and the Patriots are done for the season.

Wright, who is respected throughout the league for working his way from undrafted rookie in 2005 to versatile and highly effective defensive lineman, spoke for the first time yesterday about the concussion he suffered Sept. 12 and that forced him onto injured reserve Thursday.

“I was planning on coming back in the next few weeks. I felt like I was going to be ready,’’ Wright said. “Based off my concussion history and the coaches and the doctors and trainers looking out for me, and my best interest and my health, it was just the right decision to do what we did.

“I did not want to go on IR - that was the last thing I wanted to do. I was really looking forward to being part of this team this year.’’

Wright’s concussion problems began last Nov. 21, when he suffered a blow to the side of his head by teammate Tully Banta-Cain. Wright was dizzy immediately after the hit, but that was just the beginning of his problems: It took 3 1/2 months for him to be able to watch television, use the computer, or even read.

But he was back with the Patriots when camp began, though he missed time to a different injury. He played in one preseason game and started at tackle in the opener at Miami.

In the second quarter of that game, there was another hit to the side of his helmet. It was not as severe as the one last November, but it was enough.

Wright knew right away that it was another concussion.

He went to the sideline and told the medical staff immediately; they told him he was done for the night.

Wright acknowledged yesterday that were it not for his recent experiences, he might have pushed to return to the game. But educated now - he uses words such as “vestibular’’ - he knew he had to sit.

“It was really frustrating. I didn’t practice all of training camp, but I hit some people pretty damn hard and I really tested it out and my confidence level was high going [into the Dolphins game],’’ he said. “I wouldn’t have gone back out there if I didn’t feel like I could hold up.

“It’s unfortunate, but at the same time a good thing that it wasn’t worse than what it is. It could be so much worse. Talking with my doctor today and looking at MRIs, things can be so much worse than they are and I’m very, very, very fortunate to catch this where we’ve got it.’’

Wright has been working with Dr. Ross Zafonte from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. This time around, he knows how to deal with the healing process.

Last year, when doing just about anything hurt his brain, Wright said his mind wandered and caused anxiety, which didn’t help. Now, although he still experiences some motion sickness when watching television or using the computer (a feeling he calls “uncomfortable’’), Wright said things are going well.

Wright will happily educate his teammates on concussions and their effects, and had a message for young players yesterday.

“Your brain is extremely important - you have no idea what your brain has to process to even stand up out of a chair,’’ he said. “I think kids and high school players can learn a lot and they need to keep their ears open and they need to look out for the other guys on the field, because football is a game of toughness. Some guys feel like minor pain, minor dizziness is OK, and it’s not.

“When it comes to your brain, it’s very, very serious and it’s nothing to play with.’’

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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