We’d like to introduce our Comeback Athlete of the Month, Sammi!
She is currently a 7th grader at Arizona Connections Academy and trains as a competitive diver.
In March 2016, Sammi became injured after she hit her head following a diveduring practice. Following the head injury she had a headache, felt dizzy and had some visual problems. Sammi says she struggled in school because she was unable to focus or finish her work without getting headaches. We sat down with Sammi to talk about her concussion recovery story.
What was your recovery process at SPARCC like?
I saw Dr. Mo almost weekly to keep a close eye on my progress. It was fun and scary at the same time because my visits were always different but I was always scared that it would be longer before I could return to my sport. The staff was always so supportive and answered all of my family’s questions.
What were some of your best and worst moments during the recovery process?
The best part of my recovery was when I was told I could compete in Zones that allowed me to qualify to Nationals. The worst parts were the ups and the downs because every time I thought I was getting better, I would go backwards for a few days or a week. This was hard because I could never tell when I was actually going to get better.
How did active rehab help you during your recovery?
Being able to do active things in the clinic made me more comfortable with knowing my body would tolerate activity at home as well. Plus, my mom knew that I was getting better because my reactions to exercise were getting more normal. Being active in any way was better than nothing.
We agree! How did it feel to return to diving after a full recovery?
I was so happy. Then to be able to qualify to USA diving Nationals a few weeks after being cleared was unbelievable! Then when I earned my title of AAU National Champion on 3M and another national 3M synchronized title with my partner made me feel so proud. I was able to overcome injury, miss 3 months of training, and still compete at a high level, this made me very proud.
What was your experience with Dr. Mo like?
Dr. Mo was very caring, fun, and a great motivator. He always made me feel like I was going to get through this even if I did not feel like it. He answered all of my questions and did a great job keeping me motivated. He also put my long-term health first. Every time, I would beg to do more, Dr. Mo would tell me I had to wait longer. This would make me sad, but it made me realize that he just wanted me to get better faster and doing less was going to get me back to sport faster.
Do you have any advice to fellow student athletes recovering from a concussion?
Keep calm, stay positive, and follow the doctors’s orders. It can seem like you are not going to get better, but eventually you do. It is hard work, to catch up, but following the Doctor’s orders will help make your recovery as fast as it can be. Concussions are very different for everyone, so be honest about how you feel so you can get back to the sport you love the fastest possible, knowing you will be safe. Even if you feel like you should be doing more, you really shouldn’t because you do not want to slow your progress.
Thank you for your responses Sammi, we are so happy to see you accomplishing so much!
-Dr. Mo and the SPARCC Team