Even after a soccer ball hit Mya Theriot in the face so hard that it knocked her to the ground, she expected to recover and go right back to her beloved game.
But it didn’t happen much to her dismay, as well as that of her family of Luling.
In the two years since it happened at Hahnville High School, Theriot was identified with a brain injury that resulted in a diagnosis of dysautonomia – a disease of the nervous system – that has changed this 16-year-old’s life forever. It was linked to the concussion that her mother, Cherie, said left her with lingering strange and life-altering symptoms.
“Most of my extra time before my concussion and dysautonomia was spent playing soccer, and I can’t do that any more,” Mya said. “I still get sad about that but I know that my health is more important. My condition stops me from doing most things that kids my age are able to do. Sometimes, I can’t go anywhere. And, a lot of the time, if I force myself to do more, I’m really sick afterwards.”
While some of her symptoms seemed to ease, others emerged like dizziness, stomach issues, memory problems, difficulty focusing and elevated heart rate that doctors didn’t initially connect to the nervous system problems. Over time, doctors verified dysautonomia.
“It’s been traumatic for our entire family,” Cherie said. “It’s turned our world upside down. Her quality of life is really low and she was just getting back to where she was able to do more … like homecoming, which was exciting.”
Mya needs high quantities of salt to increase her blood volume, as well as a beta blocker to control her blood pressure that help her avoid fainting.
“People think this is just a rare case, but it’s not,” Cherie said of the concussions and complications.
Both Cherie and Mya are dedicated to improving awareness about concussions. Cherie’s research revealed the second highest rate of concussions are in girl’s soccer, second to football, and that concussions can cause lingering complications.
“It’s been traumatic for our entire family. It’s turned our world upside down. Her quality of life is really low.” – Cherie Theriot
“For my daughter now, it doesn’t take a whole lot to get a concussion,” she said.
Giving up a game that Mya has played since age six has proven difficult, but she continued working with her team keeping stats. She was actually working through one of the tougher lingering symptoms, debilitating migraines, when she was accidentally struck in the head again nearly a month ago in the locker room.
Mya had to be pulled from school in February of last year and home schooled. During that time, she got 40 hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments that helped. She has returned to school for half days.
The family also is raising money to buy a chamber.
Dat Dads’ Club is also holding a fishing tournament fundraiser for Mya on March 16.
“My hope was that if we treated the brain injury, that it would help with the symptoms as well,” she said. “There was progress.”
But, with this latest injury, Cherie feels they’re going backwards.
“Her life will never be the same,” she lamented. “She was grieving not to be able to play soccer. She can’t exercise or run so it’s pretty traumatic.”
But Mya is staying strong.
“I won’t give up on getting better because I refuse for my life to be like this forever,” she said. “I want to finish high school and go to college.”