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Thursday, 14 March 2013 14:03

Former Aspiring Las Vegas Female Youth Soccer Athlete Battles the After Effects from Major Concussion Injury

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sasha young soccer18 year old Las Vegan Sasha Pina first started playing soccer at the age of 8 and by the time she was 16 years old She was on top of the world and was looking forward to a very promising soccer career. To say she loved soccer is an understatement, she lived for it. She was a fast runner, the speed and accuracy in which she could cross the ball was her claim to fame. She had even found a recruiter and already had 2 colleges showing interest in her plus she had finally made the competitive team that she wanted to play with.

On a warm summer day in September back in 2010, then 16 year old Sasha would play in a soccer tournament for her new team, the U17 LV Surf (now known as the Players), at Kellogg-Zayer fields up near Summerlin. During the game she would go up for a header and that would be the last thing she would remember. During the play she was elbowed on the right side of her head by a player from the other team and was knocked unconscious in the air and would hit the ground hard on the left side of her head. She was out cold for over a minute as her teammates would carry her off the field.

sasha preinjury gameWhen she awoke everyone initially thought that she was ok, she said she was, but then she couldn't walk. Once they finally found the athletic trainer, he looked at her and stated it was probably concussion she had suffered and told her mom that it was normal to not be able to walk and recommend they take her to the hospital. He drove them up to their car and her mom helped her off the cart and into the car while the trainer talked about her playing high school games instead of her injury.

It would be a little over an hour from the time of impact until she finally was seen by the doctor at Desert Springs Hospital. By that time she wasn't walking or talking. Within an hour of that she went from being OK to being non-responsive. A CT Scan was done and the initial conclusion was that she had a grade 3 concussion and the doctors said she should be better within 30 minutes.

An hour later Sasha was still unresponsive except to say that it hurt. The ER doc looked at the CT again and found a small lateral fracture in her skull but no bleeding. She was then admitted to Sunrise Childrens Pediatric ICU.

After 24 hours from the accident, she was more responsive, talked a little more and had a huge headache and amnesia. She had no memory of her mom, her brother, her friends and most of her life. She had even forgotten how to do basic things like use a fork or how to stand up.

Two days  after the accident she was released from the hospital.  She was talking a bit more but still had no memory except the name of her soccer coach and her email address (her mom still finds it funny that Sasha didn't know her name but could remember her email address.) Her family was told that there were no signs of bleeding in the brain and that her memory would become better when the swelling went down.

sasha hospitalHer official diagnose when released from the hospital was concussion (TBI) and amnesia with loss of consciousness and altered mental status. Left temporal skull fracture, non-depressed. Single contusion to the head. Photo-phobia. She was instructed to resume activity as tolerated and restricted from any physical activity for a minimum of 8 weeks. 

After 1 week Sasha began talking a little more but still had a big headache and still had no memory or emotion. A month after the injury she started to have a change in taste & smell, memory recall, loss of hearing in her right ear and loss of peripheral vision in both eyes but primarily her left.

The amnesia she suffered as a result from the injury was horrible for her entire family as well as her friends; she had no recollection of her mom, of her friends that came to see her and could barely remember very little about herself. She forgot how to use a fork, how to stand up and where she lived. She still had no memory of anyone except her soccer coach John and her email address.

sasha momSasha became frustrated with her amnesia and asked her mom if  she had a cell phone. Her mom said she did and gave it to her. She then would send a text message to everyone on her contact list letting them know what happened to her and asking them how she knew them and who they were to her. Some of her friends thought it was a joke, some never responded and others didn’t really know what to say. Her mom says it was sad introducing her to people that she knew as a young child and the look in her eyes trying to remember them and the tears in the eyes of the people meeting her for the second time.   

A year and half later in April 2012 she would still suffer from daily headaches, cognitive problems, word recall and vestibular problems. She developed extreme balance problems that would result in her falling and hitting her head again. 3 months later in July of 2012 she started having partial complex seizures that were coming from her left temporal occipital lobe.

All of her MRIs and CT scans came back clean and no one knows why so much damage happened from 1 soccer game. Sasha started playing soccer when she was 8 and her mom said that she had taken hits before but wasn't aware of any previous concussions.  

sasha highschool soccerHowever Sasha did recall a time two years early when she was 14 where she was dazed briefly during a practice for her Freshman High School team. She stated that another player and her had collided heads when trying to head the ball. She fell to the ground and hit her head again but got right back up and continued to play, not thinking anything of a concussion. She recalled having a headache afterwards but that was it.

Her mom stated "My daughter is a strong, amazing young woman. She has lost so much from that 1 second doing what she loved. Yet she smiles through the headaches and the hard days. She's beautiful."

The financial impact to her family has been incredible. Medical bills, medication costs and loss of employment from all the time taken off for doctor’s appointments have been more than stressful.   

As a parent, she was never made aware of the long term effects of sports related head injuries. The contracts that she signed were very generic and only mentioned that soccer is a dangerous sport and can lead to injuries including death. She couldn't recall any player safety instructions, classes or handouts from either her high school or her club coaches. The trainer that looked at Sasha after her injury did not provide any post-injury information and neither her coach nor anyone from the soccer club ever called to follow up on her progress.

Since the accident, Sasha hasn't played soccer again due to her injury and has lost most of her soccer friends along with the opportunity to have it as a career. She continued school and despite the cognitive/memory problems and headaches, she graduated from SECTA on time with a diploma with a certified nursing assistant/sports medicine major.

sasha facebook 36502She was accepted in the CNA program at CSN but was forced to withdraw 5 weeks before the end of her program due to the start of her seizures. Through all of her challenges, she has never given up and smiles through all of it. She still looks forward to nursing when she is better.

She is in no way a victim of her injury and her life is pretty good. She is a client at the Nevada Community Enrichment program receiving occupational, speech and physical therapy. She is employed as a part-time childcare worker at Central Christian Church in Henderson and has a gift for working with challenged and autistic children. She looks forward to coaching soccer to the smaller children.

She has also become a member of the LVSportz Foundation's family to help us in our efforts to spread concussion awareness information and other sports safety awareness to local parents, coaches and youth athletes. This story is just a small part of what we hope to accomplish with our youth sports safety awareness program.

Sasha will be joining us in our P.A.S.S. Community Outreach Program where we talk to parents, athletes and coaches in-person at league days/meetings, team practices, sports clinics, schools, and community events.

If you are interested in having us out to speak to your parents, kids or coaches please don't hesitate to ask!

Sasha and her mom have also set up a Facebook page called "Prayer Warriors for Sasha" that outlines her story and her ongoing battle. You can view the page by clicking the image below and while your there make sure to hit the "Like" button to follow her journey:

prayer warriors for sasha

Read 5942 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 07:30

What's Being Said?

Jessica Zepeda Ricketts
2015-07-27, 15:54
Thank you so much for your services! My son was seen Saturday and although the ac was messed up it was greatly appreciated and you guys were very polite and professional! I wish I had the money to tip that day. (Game-Saver Event 7/25/2015; Free Sports Physicals, Youth Athlete Heart Screenings)