On the evening of October 8, UST foreign student athlete Steve Akomo was confined to the UST hospital after being diagnosed with concussion and finding blood clots on his cerebellum. Because of this, he is out for the season effective immediately, a very sad way to end his short playing career in the UAAP.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the situation, and Humblebola will do its best to shed some light on the condition of Steve Akomo, as well as what happens moving forward.
Concussion, according to Mayo Clinic’s definition, is “a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function”. The effects of a concussion may not be permanent, but it can affect one’s memory (temporary amnesia), headaches, loss of concentration, difficulty in balancing, and a lack of coordination. Sometimes, a patient who has suffered a concussion loses consciousness. The most common cause of concussion is a blow to the head, and in sports, physical contact is usually the culprit. In the case of Steve, it was an inadvertent shoulder check by Papi Sarr in their game against Adamson on September 22, 2018. He was slow to get up. But since the big man got up after the incident, he was back on the floor and continued to play for a total of 30 minutes.
Treatment for concussions can usually be done at home, usually with just bed rest, fluids, and pain medication for the afflicted area. But since the symptoms did not manifest right away, this prompted the coaching staff to let him practice the next few days and play against Ateneo one week after, which aggravated his condition and may have ruptured a vein, according to sources.
Two days after the game against Ateneo, he started feeling sick and vomited (he was already feeling dizzy and disoriented a day prior) along with difficulty speaking and general weakness, more concentrated on the left side of his body. It was initially diagnosed as a case of food poisoning but ruled out after blood tests were done. An imaging study revealed blood clotting on his cerebellum.
The cerebellum is a part of the brain that coordinates the movement and balance of the body. Infarcts in this area may result in weakness of half of the body causing problems with walking and balance, along with symptoms like intense headache, vertigo, and vomiting. Treatment for blood clots is not as simple as that of concussion. There are usually two ways of treating this, the medical and surgical way. The medical way will use medication to dissolve the clot and subsequently drain the blood from the afflicted site. The surgical treatment will require going under the knife to manually remove the clot. The doctors of Steve opted to give medication and observe its efficacy for seven days. If medication is not suffice, he will undergo surgery.
What does it all mean For Steve moving forward?
We have to set aside basketball for a while. Steve’s well-being is the most important thing right now, and he needs to get back into shape. As of this writing, Steve can lift his left arm, and that is wonderful news. Sources close to the situation assess that medication may be enough to treat the condition. However, he needs to be observed further to see if there are any effects on his movement, coordination, and balance. After this, the need for therapy will be assessed.
This unfortunate incident would hopefully be a precedent for a concussion protocol in the country. Injuries like these are very serious and should be treated with importance. Coaches and staff should be trained in order to know what to look out for and to assess whether an athlete is cleared to play or not. EMTs in the venue should also be proactive in checking the condition of the athletes after a head trauma and should be able to have the authority to forbid an athlete from competing if they see it fit. Let this be a lesson to the UAAP, as well as the other leagues, from the grassroots to the professional level.
We at Humblebola are behind you every step of the way, Steve. We are hoping for your speedy recovery and we hope to see you play the sport that we love again.