Reuben Nsemoh, son of Dora and Emmanuel Nsemoh, was the goalkeeper for their National League soccer team. The accident was serious enough that Reuben had to be airlifted off the field to an Atlanta hospital where he spent over a week in ICU.
During a game, a player kicked the 16-year-old goalie from Brookwood High School (Snellville, Georgia.) in the head when he dived for the ball. This collision caused him to go into shock with a severe concussion.
When Reuben Nsemoh woke up from a three-day coma in ICU, he was speaking fluent Spanish instead of English. He had never spoken the language before.
The first thing he said after he motioned for food was:
“Tengo hambre,” which means “I am hungry” in Spanish.
His mother was shocked. She said:
“I was very shocked. That’s something he’s never done before. When he got up and he started speaking Spanish, I was confused”.
Reuben said he has a lot of Spanish-speaking friends, who speak the language when he is around. He believes this might have had something to do with the strange episode that shocked and confused his parents.
“My friends would always talk to me in Spanish and would teach me,” he told WSB. “I wasn’t perfect, but my brother is a really fluent Spanish speaker. So he kind of inspired me with that too.” Traumatic brain injuries can cause short and long term changes in language, according to TBI researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As he recovered, Reuben started to speak English again, and he later talked to reporters while recovering at home.
“Sometimes I daze out,” Reuben told a WSBTV reporter. “Sometimes I feel like I am not there, but I am.”
He was recently released from hospital and is currently recuperating at home under his parents’ care. Unfortunately, Reuben’s seizures have not stopped. His parents said it was his third concussion but he said he hopes to return to the field and has no intention to wear a helmet.
“It’s my passion. It’s the one thing I want to do for my career,” Nsemoh said.