The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Todd Stanford

September 22, 2011

Concussions derail girl’s career, life

It’s a phrase that parents utter to describe their increasingly independent teenagers: I don’t even know who he/she is anymore.

Sadly for Turbotville’s Brenda Perrin, it’s not hyperbole.

Perrin’s daughter, Alexia, is a former (and hopefully future) member of the Warrior Run girls soccer team.

But she was struck in the head by a ball twice during a single practice last October, and she suffered her second concussion of the year. The first had occurred during a snowboarding accident the previous winter. That first injury was so severe that she had to be taken via Life Flight to Geisinger Medical Center.

Alexia’s second concussion proved disastrous. She suffered severe headaches and could no longer attend school. Then a sophomore, Alexia also went through a personality change.

“The (concussion) really did her in,” her mother says.

“She’s been in therapy for a year. She’s still not the same; I’m not quite sure she’ll ever be the same.

“The two months following (the second concussion) were horrific. It was like a stranger living in my house. ... We’ve had to have her committed twice.”

Alexia went through severe weight loss after the second concussion. She also began cutting herself, and — after returning to school — even attacked another girl with whom she’d had disagreements in the past.

“She doesn’t remember it,” Brenda says. “We had to hire a lawyer for the criminal charges. She’s just now finishing up probation. She has a probation officer.”

Brenda says her daughter is still dealing with anger and depression. But she is back at school now, and she’s doing better. Alexia hopes to return to the pitch next fall to play for the Defenders, and even has dreams of playing for Bucknell’s soccer team some day.

Whatever the future holds, it’s been a long, hard trip for Alexia and her family. Her two younger brothers had trouble understanding the changes in their sister, and her medical and legal bills have set her parents back financially. The reason Brenda and her husband Douglas are coming forward with their story is they want to make sure people understand the dangers of concussions. They want people to understand that they don’t just happen to football players — and that the effects can be devastating.

“Before the accident, she was an honor student,” Brenda says. “A perfect kid, perfect athlete. It just turned her world upside down.”

The Perrins are pushing for new laws that will help kids in Alexia’s situation.

Brenda claims that the state’s special education laws weren’t designed with students like Alexia in mind.

“That’s what we’re trying to push for,” Brenda says. “You can’t just throw them back into the classroom.”

In this space next week, we’ll hear from Alexia, and how she’s managed to recover from her concussion.

— 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.

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