For most of Mercedes Riggs’ college career, basketball has been the least of her worries, but there is now hope that a load can be taken off her shoulders.

The senior’s mother, Anita Riggs, suffered a traumatic brain injury five years ago after falling and hitting her head hard on a patch of ice. Doctors could not find a solution for Riggs’ neural problems, but they recently suggested a new breakthrough treatment called Cognitive FX. Doctors believe the treatment may help cure Riggs, so her daughter Vanessa—Mercedes’ oldest sister—launched a GoFundMe account to help pay for it. In the account’s first 11 days online, $5,867 has already been raised toward a $9,000 goal.

“It’s very expensive and you have to pay cash first,” Mercedes Riggs said. “But a lot of people so far have been very generous and it has been a blessing for all of us.”

The Riggs family has been searching for ways to improve Anita Riggs’ quality of life for a long time. As a former college athlete and high school teacher and coach, Riggs had always been very active physically and cognitively.

The fall changed all of that. Riggs did not feel much of an immediate impact after the injury, but she soon developed serious symptoms that have persisted ever since. According to the GoFundMe page—titled “Cognitive Therapy Treatment 4 Anita”—she has suffered from short-term memory loss, delayed response time, migraines and numbness throughout her body, among other symptoms. The trauma even forced her to leave her job.

“One day she almost had a stroke while she was at work, and that’s when we realized she was not able to work anymore,” Mercedes Riggs said. “We’ve tried different neurologists, we’ve tried chiropractic [work], we’ve tried a lot of different things. Nothing’s really seemed to really improve her. If she stayed [the same], that’d be saying a lot, but she really seems like she’s gotten worse.”

Cognitive FX—pioneered by Dr. Alina Fong—has given Anita Riggs and her family renewed hope that something can be done to improve her condition. The treatment is a five-day personalized process that targets and corrects problems in concussion victims’ brains through functional MRIs. Approximately 300 people have undergone the treatment so far, and the data is scheduled to be submitted for peer review later this year, according to

“It’s like a boot camp for cognitive processes,” Mercedes Riggs said. "They take an MRI before and see what parts of the brain aren’t working, then develop a personal plan for her to start getting her neurons and her brain to start working, and then take a post-MRI and see where the improvements are.”

The Riggs family will not have to travel far to see the leading experts in the field. Cognitive FX is headquartered in Provo, Utah, just a 20-minute drive from Mercedes' hometown of Lindon. With the support the GoFundMe page has received so far from 55 different donors, the dream of revolutionary treatment for Riggs’ brain injury is close to becoming a reality.

Mercedes Riggs has been touched by the support this campaign has received while she prepares for her final college season as a Duke captain on the other side of the country. As one of the few upperclassmen on a team that brought in a top-ranked recruiting class filled with guards, her leadership in the backcourt will be essential this season, and her commitment to the team through a difficult situation has not gone unnoticed by her coaches and teammates.

"Mercedes has been absolutely great,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “The reality has been fantastic and she’s one of our captains because of her work ethic…. Talk about somebody committed to a culture—Mercedes is one of those people.”