High School Soccer Star Gets Back in the Game
It was a day Alex Lucaci would never forget, if only he could remember it. The Summit High School soccer team was beating League-rival Morris Hills in a matchup on Upper Tatlock Field. With just minutes left in the game, a Morris Hills player bounded toward the Summit goal and took a shot. Alex, Summit’s junior goalkeeper and co-captain, sprang up in the air to make the save. As Alex’s feet left the ground, the Morris Hills player clipped him in the knees, flipping Alex upside down and onto his head. The crowd gasped as both players were knocked unconscious and lay motionless.
Alex was taken by ambulance to the Emergency Department, where an evaluation and CT scan revealed he had a concussion, but no bleeding on the brain. In a follow-up visit with his pediatrician, Alex was referred to Dr. Joseph Rempson, co-director of Atlantic Neuroscience Institute’s Concussion Center at Overlook.
“Dr. Rempson could tell that Alex was badly concussed based upon his performance on the center’s computerized neuropsychological tests and assessments,” said Alex’s mother, Barbara. “He helped us understand the cognitive, physical and emotional issues associated with concussions, and told us what we could do to facilitate Alex’s recovery in the months ahead.
“He helped us understand the limitations of an injured brain and told us to avoid things that could over stimulate the brain and aggravate Alex’s condition – like exposure to light and sound, sitting in front of a computer or even watching television,” added Barbara. “I’m a huge fan of the concussion center. We would never have imagined the long road to recovery.”
In the weeks following his injury, Alex tried returning to school, but couldn’t make it through the day. He attempted to play his French horn, but couldn’t quite manage the notes. He lost 10 pounds in two weeks, despite having a healthy appetite. Some of Alex’s teachers were growing impatient with his prolonged absences and inability to focus on his studies. Alex, too, was growing frustrated by his slow improvement.
“Dr. Rempson was extremely caring and involved with my recovery,” commented Alex. “He called several times a week to see how I was doing; he wrote letters to my teachers; and he even developed a rehab program with a physical therapist to help me get back into shape. He really boosted my spirits by allowing me to work out again and get my life back.”
Back in goal for his senior year, Alex received all-county and all-conference honors; and the Summit High soccer team had its best season since the early ‘80s, reaching the county championship finals and state semifinals. He has since gone on to study and play soccer at Loyola University in Baltimore.
Although Alex still doesn’t remember the ill-fated game, he feels like a concussion expert now.
“I tell everyone about the concussion center,” he said. “Considering the number of sport teams around here and the risk of head injuries, it’s definitely a good thing to have close by.”