Wallpher
Wallpher

She regained her senses late Saturday night while on her back in a bed at York Hospital.

One of Aja Wallpher's first responses was sensitivity to light, a sign of having suffered a concussion.

"Once I got into the hospital, my first memory was I was in a neck brace looking directly at the ceiling," Wallpher said. "The lights are on the ceiling and I'm looking directly up at them. I needed a sheet over my head to shield the light."

The 5-foot, 8-inch York College women's basketball point guard couldn't pull the sheet over her head on her own. She was to stay completely still. No one yet knew the extent of the damage from the concussion she suffered late in Saturday's second-round loss of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

"I felt pressure on the right side. My right extremities, I couldn't move them. It was very limp. You get pins and needles, like when your foot falls asleep," she said. "I got back the feeling and strength in my right leg after 24 hours. My right arm is still kind of behind. Even now it feels weak. I don't have the strength to lift my arm above my head."

Wallpher left York Hospital and returned to her parents' home in Howard County, Md., on Monday afternoon. She doesn't remember the play from Saturday's game that put her in the hospital. But she's gone back and watched video of when she dove for a loose ball in front of the York College bench and the knee from a Baldwin Wallace player nailed her in the head.


Advertisement

The fans in the Grumbacher Center went nearly silent. Wallpher was on her back on the court surrounded by team trainers, her parents and Coach Betsy Witman. Trainers would fit Wallpher with a neck brace before paramedics arrived to take her away on a stretcher.

"Apparently when I was on the court I wasn't really responsive. My eyelids were fluttering back and forth really rapidly," Wallpher said.

The Spartans' program leader in steals and assists, Wallpher said she's had concussions before, but none that caused her to feel pain in her neck or lose feeling in her extremities like the one she suffered Saturday.

"That was probably the scariest part. A doctor would give me both his hands and I would have to squeeze his right and left hand. I couldn't squeeze with my right hand," she said.

A magnetic resonance image (MRI) and computed tomography (CAT) scan revealed Wallpher's spine to be OK, meaning the injury was limited to a concussion and the stretching of some nerves from her neck to her right arm. She'll have to go undergo therapy, likely at Johns Hopkins Hospital, if her right arm doesn't recover completely in the next couple of weeks. And her balance still isn't all the way back yet, either.

"I'm not so much dizzy, but now and then I'll lose my balance. You don't really think twice going up and down the stairs. I have to pay attention to what I'm doing," she said.

The good news is Wallpher is expected to make a full recovery. While she knows she's fortunate, Wallpher, a senior, would've liked to have been able to walk off the floor Saturday in her final game in a York College uniform.

But it might not be the last time she plays basketball. A second-team All-Capital Athletic Conference selection, Wallpher said she and fellow senior and CAC Player of the Year Brittany Hicks are thinking of playing professionally overseas.

Then again, it's a decision Wallpher said she'd have to mull over, considering her health.

"It would be OK to play but the more concussions you get the more serious it is," she said. "I'm on the fence right now just because of how I feel physically. I couldn't catch or pass a basketball right now."

— Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.