Chapter 7 – Taylor’s 2 story
Chapter 7: Taylor
We have heard from so many families of young female athletes who have suffered from head injuries. As you can imagine, this means that everyone in the families of these athletes struggle, watching helplessly as their loved ones go through terrible pain. All the girls and their families have meant so much to us and how I met Taylor Triolo and her story inspire me every day to forge forward. She has bravely used her testimonial of the traumatic brain injury she sustained as a catalyst to drive US Lacrosse to mandate protective headgear for all female lacrosse players.
I first met Taylor at a lacrosse tournament in Florida. I went there to meet coaches, parents, and players who would be wearing headgear soon, as it was going to be mandated the following season for all players to wear headgear at the high school level in Florida.
The games were played over the weekend, and before it started at 8:00 Saturday morning, the tournament director allowed me to briefly introduce myself and the Hummingbird headgear to all in attendance. In a tent in front of a lot of fields, I spoke for a quick minute and then told everyone that I would be walking around all day and would be more than happy to discuss the product and demonstrate how the headgear works.
But this did not happen because I instead stayed under that tent all day.
When I finished speaking, many approached me to introduce themselves or to look at the headgear, but eventually, they all went on their way to their field to play in or watch the games. With only a few people left under the tent, Taylor approached me and asked if we could talk. She was waiting until the others left. I, of course, agreed and suggested we take a walk around the fields together, to which she responded, “I can’t.”
Exposure to the sun made Taylor’s constant, excruciating headaches even worse, so she and I sat under that tent all day. She shared her story and the horrific aftermath, which was written about on spacecoastdaily.com on September 27, 2015.
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA—Brevard County Fire Rescue reports Engine 48, Rescue 48 and District 45 are on scene of a Trauma Alert where a 16-year-old female patient suffered a head injury from Lacrosse.
BCFR responded at about 6:50 p.m. Sunday and reported the patient is being airlifted by First Flight to the hospital.
Space Coast Daily. (2015). “BCFR: First Flight Airlifts Injured 16-Year-Old Female Lacrosse Player to Hospital.” Space Coast Daily (September 27). https://spacecoastdaily.com/2015/09/bcfr-first-flight-airlifts-injured-16-year-old-female-lacrosse-player-to-hospital/.
Taylor was at the tournament where we met because a family member and friends of hers were playing. Many things struck me while we were talking, and among them was how amazing and resilient Taylor is even while she continues to struggle.
For so long, she felt alone, as if no one outside of her family understood what she was going through. She described the eight painful medicative shots she received to the back of her neck, all in a futile effort to alleviate the excruciating throbbing in her head.
Throughout this book, you will read the writing of coaches, doctors, players, and parents. I wanted the words from so many great people to speak for themselves.
Girls’ Lacrosse Industry Insider Letter: Taylor Triolo (written in 2017)
When I was sixteen, I was life flighted from my high school lacrosse field during a game. That was the day my life changed forever. Soon after that, I could not go away to college as I had previously planned. My life changed on the field that day. And now, four years later, I am still dealing with the ongoing head trauma issues.
The day I was airlifted was a fall day and started out just like any other high school lacrosse game. Until I went to pick up a ground ball and collided into my opponent’s hip as I went to come back up. My head was whipped backwards, and as I fell to the ground, my head fell forward with force.
The game stopped. My whole world stopped. I became completely unconscious for roughly 15 minutes. It was not until the paramedics came and strapped me onto a backboard that I came to again. At that time, the emergency crew told me that I needed to be airlifted to the hospital for my injuries.
At the hospital, the suspected concussion was confirmed with a diagnosis, as well as two herniated discs in my spine. Because my injuries and symptoms were so severe, I missed over a month-and-a-half of school—six whole weeks. Even when I did return, I could only make it through lunchtime. The concussion symptoms made it extremely difficult for me to not only concentrate in school, but then I would inevitably get a migraine from trying to read sometimes just even a few sentences. The bright synthetic lights in the hallways pierced my head so severely that I could not at times even focus as I walked from place to place. The severe tinnitus (ringing in the ears—like you sometimes hear after you hear a really loud alarm, even after it stops) made it almost completely impossible to actually hear what the teachers were saying to me.
Needless to say, I fell completely behind in my schoolwork after one bad fall on the lacrosse field. My life was at a standstill. I could not even apply to colleges. That was devastating, of course. But never being allowed to play for my school’s girls’ lacrosse team ever again was the most hurtful thing for me. My doctors stated that it was in my best interest to never play again because I had by then had multiple concussions.
I have since continued in my recovery process, and in a lot of ways, my life still feels like it is paused while I work with numerous doctors to try to get help with the symptoms from the injuries that I suffered long ago. I have suffered from depression. I have seen some relief from Botox injections for migraines and muscle spasms, only to find that it was only temporary. In the end, I decided that the procedure was too stressful and painful to endure to not see long-term effects.
For so long, I have been seeing neurologists, orthopedic specialists, physical therapists, and even psychologists to try to get help for my brain injury recovery, but a lot of the time I have canceled the appointments because time and time again I have heard the same kind of non-helpful response to my concerns and questions: “We’re sorry but there is no way to help this. We have to wait and see.”
It’s been four years since that fall day on the field. I still have pain in my neck after I just work out or carry anything. I get a headache, and I have every day of my life since this injury occurred. My tinnitus did get better as it is not constant, but there are still times that my hearing has gone out completely, and in those times, I can’t hear anything at all for short lengths of time. It may be just a few minutes, but it’s really scary when those times happen.
This injury has caused me to go through some of the worst times of my life. And sometimes, I have thought to myself a few different possible ways that could have prevented this from happening. But the only thing that I know could have possibly prevented this injury, besides me not having played lacrosse—which would not have ever happened because I love the sport, even still—would have been if I had worn headgear.
Concussions are a serious injury and should not be taken lightly, or even as a joke. If I could go back to that day of my injury, I would have definitely put headgear on before stepping onto that field. It is so important to have the proper safety equipment to prevent horrible accidents from happening.
Taylor is simply amazing. She and her compelling story gave me the clear understanding that we were doing the right thing.