Laura, 23 Years Old, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
In January of 2013, Laura, an avid snowboarder, had an accident on the slope and sustained a concussion. After following a recommended period of rest, Laura felt mostly back to normal. She revisited the ski slope in February and experienced a handful of wipeouts, including at least one bump to the head, but nothing she found particularly concerning.
Over the next week, it became clear to Laura that things were not quite right. Her symptoms included headaches that worsened with activity and concentration, exhaustion, forgetfulness, mood changes, and difficulty focusing. Laura visited her doctor and was advised to avoid all tasks that provoked her symptoms. Laura followed this recommendation for a year and a half with regular check-ups, but saw very little improvement.
Laura was referred by her primary care physician in Canada to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh for a second opinion. On her first visit, Laura underwent testing to evaluate her injury. Laura says, “I made the trip to Pittsburgh with the expectation that I would be told there was nothing left for me to try. In fact, I was told the exact opposite – that I had barely scraped the surface.”
The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program team came up with a rehabilitation plan tailored specifically to Laura’s injury and symptoms. Part of the program included education about the injury. Laura learned that rest alone was not helping her recover and she was able to return to physical activities as part of her rehabilitation. She also was given a set of vestibular exercises to work on at home. In December 2014, Laura finally felt symptom-free and was cleared by the concussion clinic team to return to all activities.
“Living with my concussion symptoms was an incredibly frustrating, confusing, emotional experience, and the doctors at the UPMC Concussion Program understood that. I am so grateful for finding them. It is no exaggeration to say that Dr. Collins has given me my life back.”
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