The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 29, 2011

Todd Stanford On high school soccer: Perrin has wind at her back

By Todd Stanford
The Daily Item

— Considering all she's been through, it's amazing that Warrior Run's Alexia Perrin still has big dreams for the future.

Perrin, a Turbotville resident who's suffered from post-concussion syndrome for nearly a year now, still wants to attend Bucknell. She wants to study oncology, the study of tumors. She wants to be an advocate for other kids who have suffered from post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

And, of course, she wants to play soccer again.

She's come a long way since those dark moments 11 months ago when she couldn't even communicate.

The Warrior Run student suffered two head injuries in 2010. The first occurred in February during a snowboarding accident, and the second came in October when she was struck in the head twice by a ball during soccer practice. The second injury was devastating.

"I couldn't talk," she says. "I couldn't say what was wrong. It was scary."

Perrin has been through some horrific experiences since: debilitating headaches, constant nausea, loss of short-term memory. A fight at school left her on probation, and she had to finish her sophomore year by going to cyber school. But she's returned to Warrior Run for her junior year, and she wants to go back to pole vaulting for the school's track team in the spring (with a helmet). She also hopes to return to the soccer team next fall as a senior (again, with a helmet).

"I feel a lot better and I can remember stuff better," says Perrin, who says she got lost jogging near her house last January. "I think I'll get better. But I know I'm always going to be scared that I'm going to get hurt again. As long as I wear my helmets and watch out, I should be good."

By coming forward and telling her story, Perrin is hoping to alert people to the dangers of PCS. Perrin not only went through physical pain, she also experienced a change in her personality. To make matters worse, she was put on a medication that -- while eliminating her head pain — exacerbated her PCS-related issues with anger and confusion. Her mother Brenda says the fight happened during this time.

"(Alexia) will tell you now that things were foggy then," Brenda says. "She remembers bits and pieces of things from that time period. We'll tell her about things she did, and she'll say, 'I never did that.' And her brothers will say, 'Yes you did, Lexi.'''

Perrin was taken off that medication, and she's felt better. She's also seen numerous doctors and been in therapy.

Although much of the worst appears to be behind her, Perrin misses soccer. She had to stand on the sideline and watch her teammates capture the state championship last year; she still can't participate this fall.

"It's rough when you hear, 'Warrior Run girls soccer has a game today,''' she says. "Especially if it's against Montoursville or Lewisburg. It sucks because I used to play in those games."

Assuming she continues to improve, Perrin will play in those games again next year. Although the effects of a concussion are serious business, so is the willpower of a young woman who wants to make it through to the other side and get on with her life.

— Sports reporter Todd Stanford covers high school soccer for The Daily Item. E-mail comments to tstanford@dailyitem.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/toddrstanford