Idris | Pittsburgh, PA
As a rising senior at a Christian academy in Wilkinsburg, Idris, 17, was playing defense on his school’s football team in August 2017. He intercepted the football, and an opposing player grabbed him from behind, causing Idris to suffer from severe whiplash. His head never contacted the ground, but as Idris got up quickly, he knew something was wrong but didn’t say anything to his coach.
Idris went back out onto the field and got hit once again. This time, he caught a pass and a teammate ran into him, knocking the wind out of him. As he lay on the ground, athletic trainers surrounded him and asked him basic questions that he was unable to answer. They administered a mental status exam on the sidelines, before an ambulance whisked Idris away to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
An MRI and a CAT scan were performed to rule out bleeding in the brain. No serious injuries occurred, but Idris and his dad were encouraged to follow up with a concussion specialist. When doing so, Idris’ primary care physician suggested the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
“As soon as I met him, I felt better,” Idris says of his first appointment with Micky Collins, PhD, clinical and executive director. “I thought I’d never be able to play football again, but he gave me confidence.”
During his first visit, Idris completed the ImPACT® test to evaluate the severity of his concussion. This included some computer tests to evaluate his cognitive and ocular functions. Dr. Collins explained the six different concussion trajectories to Idris, and told him that he had both an ocular and a vestibular concussion.
“When I’d walk into my school cafeteria, the lights and the noise really bothered me,” recalls Idris. “I’d wear sunglasses during the day and keep the hood of my sweatshirt up to block everything out. But Dr. Collins encouraged me to push through the pain and expose myself to the triggers that made me uncomfortable and brought out my symptoms.”
As part of his individualized treatment plan, Idris performed various physical exercises, as well as vestibular and oculo-motor exercises prescribed by a vestibular therapist. His dad was concerned about his academics because it was hard for Idris to concentrate. It took him extra time to complete his work, due to the concussion, but his teachers accommodated his needs.
His dedication to feeling better and doing his prescribed exercises, such as riding an exercise bike 30 minutes each day, enabled Idris to be cleared just one month after that fateful day on the football field. He’s excited to play again, and won’t have to miss the whole season due to the care he received.
“I’m so thankful to Dr. Collins and the team at UPMC for helping me feel better.”
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