Cole, 22 Years Old, Portage, MI

We felt hopeless for so long but were comforted that the doctors in Pittsburgh were finally able to tell us what to do.

Cheryl, Cole's mother

Cole, 22 Years Old, Portage, MI

In August 2013, Cole was preparing for his junior year of college at Purdue University, majoring in biochemistry. While playing hole-ball with friends, Cole collided with another player and hit his head.

As he got up from the collision, he felt nauseous, dizzy, and like something was off. Cole had experienced three concussions in the past and knew he needed an evaluation.

Initial Concussion Assessment

Cole first visited his local emergency department and was administered a CT scan. After ruling out a number of other conditions, doctors told Cole he had sustained another concussion.

To his disappointment, Cole’s doctors recommended rest and cessation of all activities including texting, talking, as well as deep conversations and thoughts.  He also began a medication regimen.

“This recommendation was devastating to me. As a student and a ‘thinker,’ they were telling me I couldn’t do any of the things I liked to do,” Cole recalls.

Concussion Symptoms

Over the next few weeks, Cole developed additional concussion symptoms.  He experienced:

  • Nausea
  • Trouble reading
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Loss of energy
  • Balance troubles

“My concussion and persisting symptoms cut to the core of who I am. It targeted my strengths and personality leaving me feeling like a different person,” Cole comments.

Concussion Challenges

From August 2013 until the fall of 2014, Cole struggled with the concussion’s impact on his life. He took some time off school and moved back to Michigan for a semester.

He returned to campus in the spring 2014 and worked in a lab. Although working and living on his own, Cole wasn’t able to do much else. His exhaustion limited the amount of time he was able to spend with friends, studying, or doing any sort of activity.

“All of my energy was gone. I was stuck in a cycle of not getting better. I felt like I was just waiting to get better and not living life,” Cole shares.

After witnessing Cole’s challenge with concussion, the head team physician at Purdue recommended the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Concussion Assessment

In November 2014, Cole traveled seven and a half hours to Pittsburgh for his first appointment with Micky Collins, PhD, and the UPMC concussion team. He underwent a full evaluation including ImPACT® testing.

Following the evaluation, Cole was given a personalized plan for his rehabilitation as well as the reassurance that with a little hard work and time, he could get better.

“After that first visit, we felt like we had an answer to our prayers. We felt hopeless for so long but were comforted that the doctors in Pittsburgh were finally able to tell us what to do,” Cole’s mother, Cheyrl, recalls.

Managing the Concussion

For months, Cole dedicated himself to his rehab plan of exertion, vestibular, and vision therapy in addition to medication management. He traveled from college, home, and Pittsburgh every four to six weeks for checkups and therapy updates.

“What sets this program apart in my opinion is that you don’t just see one stellar doctor, you see five experts. It’s how I think medicine should be done. All of my doctors and therapists talked to each other. It was like Dr. Collins is this team’s quarterback and integrates a plan among the rest of the team,” Cole comments.

Concussion Recovery

After a lot of hard work, progress, and a concussion education, Cole got better and started feeling like himself again. In spring 2015, Cole was cleared by the concussion team and was able to return to school in his full capacity.

To learn more about our patients, read their stories.


To learn more about our patients, read their stories.