Student Athlete Spotlight: Ashton Salyers
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Wright State Senior softball player Ashton Salyers is the starting centerfielder for the Raiders. She hit .296 with 15 RBIs last season as a junior and is looking to have an even better season this year.
Salyers is a Mass Communication major from Grove City, Ohio and started playing when she was around four years old. She was named district Player of the Year and also named as an All-State athlete in 2012. Coming into college things just looked like they could only get better, but starting when she got to college she could tell something just wasn’t right.
“I was having swelling in my upper extremities when I was lifting, and then they would go completely numb,” Salyers said,
“They did a test to check blood flow, and at rest I only had 20 percent blood flow of my upper body. And with just the movement of my head left or right, up or down my blood flow would completely flat line,” Salyers said.
Salyers was then diagnosed with Bilateral Thoracic outlet syndrome (in both arms).
This syndrome, according to mayoclinic.org, is group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers.
She had to quickly go from being a Division I athlete to not being able to do anything at all. The first step to getting back to a normal state of health was trying physical therapy. Unfortunately for Salyers this did not work. She then had to have surgery to try and remedy the issue.
“I got my pec minors released completely on both sides. Instead of removing them they just clipped the muscles,” said Salyers.
About a month went by and the symptoms were not getting better for Salyers, and she was continually going downhill. She had to rely on her teammates for a lot of things that are everyday activities. Things as simple as carrying a dinner plate to the table to eat, or helping her wash her hair are just a few things she couldn’t always do without help.
The next step was to go back to St. Louis to get a second, must more dangerous surgery done. Being a lefthander Salyers decided to have her left side done first so she could have a hope of playing in her sophomore season. She had one operation in April and one in June to removed one of her ribs from each side. The doctors then had to clip her scalene triangle.
“Usually people are in the hospital for about a week. I was actually in the hospital for 2+ weeks for both surgeries because of complications,” Salyers said.
Excess fluid was going into her lungs from the operation, which caused her to have another operation on each side to tie off all the vessels that they missed. This resulted in six total surgeries before it was all said and done.
Salyers was cleared to return back after only six months, which her doctor claims as a miracle. With all of the rehab that she went through everyday she was able to bounce back and build back her tolerance and mobility.
She was a starter the spring after all of her surgeries and things were looking starting to look up until she broke her hand after getting stepped on. Salyers was then primarily used as a pinch runner and took that role very seriously.
Finally in her junior season she was able to start and play a complete healthy season and was able to perform well. Coming into her senior season she has a lot of goals for her team which include winning the conference, but the one personal goal she has is to hit an out of the park homerun.
“Everyday I’m thankful. They weren’t sure if I could ever play softball again, but for me it was if I could even function normally again. It was more taking care of me as a person first and then me as an athlete second,” Salyers said.