PSUs Ariana Abalos lost a rib and relearned to throw

Athlete of the Week

Back at 3rd base, she now wants to go into medicine

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ariana Abalos is handling 3rd base for Portland State’s softball team. But 2.5 years ago the dream of playing collegiate softball was nearly ripped away.

She developed a rare condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome — TOS — which causes a person to lose communication with their extremities.

“All of a sudden I couldn’t move my arm. I couldn’t move my fingers. I couldn’t move my arm,” Abalos said. “I was like, ‘What is going on?'”

PSU’s Ariana Abalos overcame a rare condition and relearned to throw. She now plays for the Pilots softball team, April 1, 2021 (KOIN)

In her case, TOS affected her throwing arm.

“I looked down and my hand was like purple and swollen and cold,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It literally felt like my arm was dead.”

In a matter of weeks Abalos went from PSU’s hard-throwing 3rd baseman to having doctor tell her she would never play again.

Over the course of several months, she saw a dozen doctors. None of them were able to nail down her diagnosis.

Then she returned home to Phoenix, Arizona to meet with Dr. Samad Hashimi, who said he knew the answer.

“The scar formation that had happened between her muscles and her first rib essentially compress how the nerves come out of her neck,” Hashimi said.

PSU’s Ariana Abalos overcame a rare condition and relearned to throw. She now plays for the Pilots softball team, April 1, 2021 (KOIN)

Abalos’ first rib, which is by the collar bone at the base of the neck, was pinching the nerves that allowed her to use her right arm.

The fix? Remove the rib.

“It was instant relief,” she said.

Though the relief was instant, the journey back to the diamond was not.

About 18 months after her surgery, she was cleared to play a full game and it came just in time. She played her first game in her home state of Arizona — with her loved ones in the stands.

“All my family was there supporting me, and I think that, that was like the moment that I was like, I can do this,” she said. “I definitely needed a moment like that. I’m in a good place for sure.”

This entire experience made her realize she wants to be in the medical field and will pursue physician’s assistant school after her undergrad at Portland State.

PSU’s Ariana Abalos overcame a rare condition and relearned to throw. She now plays for the Pilots softball team, April 1, 2021 (KOIN)

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