Sep 9, 2015Soccer Coach Shares Personal Concussion Horrors
Brittni Souder, currently an Assistant Coach for the Frederick Community College women’s soccer team, is still dealing with the effects of the multiple concussions she suffered while playing in high school and college. Despite undergoing numerous treatments to fix the issues, including surgeries, she still has to wear earplugs in public places and suffers from constant headaches and problems when she bumps her head.
As reported in the Frederick News-Post, Souder says she had six documented concussions over a five-year span—and possibly more that went undocumented—including three while playing soccer during her junior year at Hood College. Her first documented concussion came during a track meet in high school, but it wasn’t until she was playing soccer at Hood that the issue became more serious.
“Headers were always my thing,” she said. “Regrettably, now.”
In the summer of 2013, suffering from constant headaches, Souder had surgery to remove scar tissue in the back of her head. Despite being cleared to play not long after the procedure, the problems soon returned, and she began experiencing nerve pain in her head and face.
“I played that season, but it was so bad I was having to sit out practices,” said Souder. “I was in such bad pain that I’d go into the training room and they’d lay me down and they’d surround my head with ice, and my whole body would shake uncontrollably.”
After more surgery in February of 2014 to remove nerves in the back of her head, she took off the spring semester but returned for her senior season. She would refuse to remove herself from games, putting the onus on the school’s athletic training staff.
“We had to constantly be on her about how she was feeling,” Hood Athletic Trainer Jennie Bowker said. “We had to pull her out because she wasn’t going to do it herself.”
By that point, standard concussion tests weren’t even able to help her. She’d taken them so frequently, she’d memorized them. Hood trainers devised customized ones for her instead.
“What the trainers and I came to realize was that I had taken the imPACT test so many times that I had seen each version multiple times,” said Souder. “When talking to the neurologists about it, they all agreed that the imPACT test lost its validity because it was no longer something I hadn’t seen before.”
Eventually, after being knocked unconscious from a collision with an opposing player during a game in October 2014, Souder’s mother persuaded her to quit. But the resulting headaches still make it hard for Souder to work, and she is currently raising money to cover the costs of an alternative treatment. Looking back, Souder says that she was “crazy” for continuing to play and wants to be an example for other athletes.
“I don’t want any other athlete trying to push through their symptoms because they don’t understand or don’t want to believe it could happen to them,” she said. “It’s real, it’s happened to countless people, and it can take your life away from you. I thought that I was being strong by pushing through, but the part that took real strength was walking away. I want to encourage people to have the courage to walk away when they need to. Know when it’s time to stop.”