Walter | Toronto, Canada
Walter, 50, experienced a concussion after he bumped his head while he was on vacation with his wife. A trip to Wales became less than enjoyable when the onset of his symptoms began to take over.
Walter bumped his head on a wooden beam of a low ceiling in his hotel room when reaching down to grab his cell phone. Immediately after striking the top of his skull, he fell backward and felt another crack in his head as he landed on the floor.
Walter had experienced concussions in the past, so he was familiar with what signs to check for. This time, however, he didn’t pass out or find himself feeling nauseous like he did with his previous concussions.
“I’ve had concussions before and they would resolve themselves within a matter of days or weeks,” Walter explains. “But, I’d never felt anything quite like this.”
Unlike his previous concussions, he quickly began to notice significant changes:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Walter spent the remaining days of his trip resting and trying to feel better, however his symptoms became too severe and didn’t allow him to function for more than a few hours of the day, leaving very little time to enjoy his family vacation.
Searching for a Diagnosis
When Walter and his wife returned home to New York City, Walter immediately went to the emergency room in the hopes of receiving treatment. Having experienced no progress receiving treatment in the emergency room, he decided to make an appointment with his general practitioner.
After an examination with his general practitioner, Walter’s physician did not believe that he had experienced a concussion. Walter, however, knew that something was wrong, and pursued opinions from other clinicians.
None of the doctors Walter visited gave him a productive plan for treating his condition. After several weeks with no concussion treatment plan, his symptoms had worsened and intensified.
“My cognition was severely affected,” Walter shares. “I was having trouble reading, focusing, and great difficulty word-finding.”
He began doing his own research and attempted some at-home remedies for relief of his symptoms. He tried acupuncture, shiatsu massage, and other methods that didn’t work.
“Nobody was giving me anything productive,” he says.
Walter turned to the internet for guidance. He began searching for “positive concussion stories” online, which he hoped would lead him to an effective treatment plan for his own concussion. In doing so, he discovered a blog from a former patient of Michael “Micky” Collins, PhD, clinical and executive director, UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
After reading about the patient’s concussion experience and the treatment he received at UPMC, Walter felt inspired to look into the program for himself. He called right away and was scheduled to see Dr. Collins within a month’s time.
“I was pretty nervous,” Walter recalls. “I was hoping he wasn’t going to be another doctor who said he couldn’t help me.”
The treatment methods at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program instantly reassured Walter that his condition was treatable. “Dr. Collins told me he knew exactly what to do for me,” he says. “He told me my case wasn’t unusual or complex.”
Walter’s concussion treatment followed an active approach of intense and consistent exercise during a period of five weeks. He was instructed to perform core exercises, which challenged his brain, and various ocular exercises for his eyes.
Walter’s treatment plan combined the expertise of several specialists at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion program, providing a team approach to comprehensive concussion care. Together, the experts at UPMC worked to effectively treat Walter’s concussion symptoms.
Walter traveled near and far for an effective concussion treatment plan. After relocating from New York to Toronto, Canada, he was led to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, which helped him get his life back.
Currently, Walter volunteers at a local blindness agency in Canada and continues to exercise on a routine basis. Now that his cognitive function has returned and he has fully recovered from his concussion, he is ready to return to the workforce.
“I credit Dr. Collins with getting me back on track,” Walter says. “I have to say, he saved my life.”
Walter is grateful for the team of physicians and staff members he worked with through the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and how each of them contributed to his overall recovery.
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