Jennifer | Pittsburgh, PA
A California native, Jennifer, 21, attends college in Pittsburgh. When she’s not reading her psychology books, she’s competing on the women’s ice hockey team.
In November 2016, during the first game of the season, Jennifer was hit against the dasher boards multiple times.
“It was the last time I was hit, and I immediately knew something was wrong,” she recalls, when describing how she got concussed.
Fortunately, that hit happened at the very end of the game. Jennifer quickly left the ice and headed for the locker room. There, she was experiencing:
• Pressure and mild pain in her head
“I remember crying because my head hurt so badly,” she says.
The college’s athletic trainer diagnosed Jennifer with a concussion, and she was later referred to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
There, she met Micky Collins, PhD, clinical and executive director of the program. Since Jennifer’s vestibular system was impacted, which is the sensory system responsible for balance and spatial orientation, Dr. Collins prescribed vestibular therapy to aid in her concussion recovery.
“I had no idea that there were exercises out there that could help my brain,” says Jennifer, who performed the exercises at both UPMC and at home. “When I heard I had a concussion, I thought I would have to be closed up in my room, all the time, not being able to do anything.
“Instead, it was Dr. Collins’ approach to ‘expose myself’ to the triggers that would bring on my concussion symptoms, and then take a break. ‘Expose myself’ again, and then take another break.”
After only one week of treatment, Jennifer reported noticing an improvement.
“Reading got a lot better,” she recalls. “I had taken some time off from classes. I just couldn’t take reading and viewing the screens.”
Jennifer’s symptoms have improved enough that Dr. Collins cleared her to be able to return to her team and to classes.
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