Samantha Sanderson Brown Co-Founder
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Samantha played soccer for 16 years. She earned athletic and academic scholarships at Louisiana State University. After her freshman year she transferred to the University of Miami (FL) with an athletic scholarship. In 2008, during the spring season of her junior year, Samantha suffered two concussions within a short time which resulted in daily headaches, light sensitivity, vertigo, nystagmus, balance issues, memory problems, emotional instability, impulsivity, and a steep decline in grades. Ultimately, these injuries ended her soccer career. In addition to medication and rest, Samantha engaged in psychotherapy for treatment of anxiety and depression. The primary intervention was heart rate variability biofeedback which helped jump start the healing process and her acceptance that her soccer career ended. Based on her report, she felt her recovery was complete after two years.
After graduating from the University of Miami (FL) in 2009, she worked for three years before returning to school. In 2012, was accepted into the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University with the goal of attaining her doctorate to work with athletes who have suffered concussions. Two months before her program began, Samantha was rear ended by a semi-truck and suffered another concussion from whiplash. This time her symptoms included memory loss, headaches, light and noise sensitivity, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, visual difficulties, and tremor. While most of her symptoms resolved after one year, she continues to deal with lingering anxiety, hand tremor, and visual difficulties (over-convergence). Throughout her graduate program Samantha has made every effort to work with athletes who are dealing with injury, especially concussion, and bring awareness to the psychological effects of concussion and concussion recovery. She is currently in the final year of her doctorate in psychology and is completing her internship in Rehabilitation Psychology at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
Lauren Long Co-Founder
An Oklahoma native, Lauren had one passion – soccer. The desire to be the best at soccer provided many opportunities for a lengthy career; from state tournaments, college showcases and eventually the opportunity to play in college. Lauren accepted a scholarship to play for NAIA school, MidAmerica Nazarene University (Olathe, KS) in 2004. Known for her physical play in the air, Lauren was often the victor in 50/50 challenges; however, being the best in the air came at a cost. Starting at age 7, Lauren suffered at least double digit concussions and countless subconcussive hits over the course of a nearly fourteen year career. With aspirations to play at the next level but unable to overcome the lingering symptoms, including emotional outbursts, migraine headaches, depression and anxiety, she was forced to walk away from the game she loved in 2007.
Before being diagnosed in 2014 with chronic post concussion syndrome, Lauren underwent a lengthy neuropsychological evaluation that indicated mild to severe impairment in memory, concentration and impulse control. Further evaluations of her brain also pointed to extensive psychological and emotional difficulties as a result of long term brain trauma. Lauren continues to deal with post concussion symptoms but manages these with a great team of physicians and a therapist she sees on a regular basis. She has agreed to donate her brain to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University upon her death.
Today, Lauren uses her experience to advocate for athletes of all ages to make sure that proper protocols are in place should a concussion occur. An outspoken advocate in her home state of Oklahoma, Lauren was a key member in helping write the updated concussion law that passed in May 2016 after failing to reach the governor’s desk in 2014. Working alongside executive members of the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association, Lauren was featured on several local newscasts sharing her story and the importance of passing updated legislation in Oklahoma. She considers the passage of this updated concussion law one of her greatest achievements and continues to fight for better protocols and management of sports-related concussions in Oklahoma on a daily basis.