Judy | Gloucester, MA

Judy | Gloucester, MA

At 56, Judy, of Gloucester, Mass., still swims competitively. As she was doing the backstroke, she miscounted her strokes and hit her head on the pool’s wall. Unbeknownst to her, she sustained a concussion.


“At first, I had no symptoms whatsoever,” recalls Judy. “In fact, I continued my workout, and then completed another workout a day later.”

Three days after hitting the wall, Judy was driving and started to feel “overwhelmed and very uncomfortable.” She had her husband come get her and take her home.

For the next few weeks, Judy experienced the following:

  • Trouble viewing screens
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness

“Those symptoms slowly dissipated after about seven weeks and I gradually resumed my workouts,” she says. “But then, I started to experience excruciating headaches.”

Judy, who has a history of migraines, reports having a constant headache for about five weeks. Those were followed by panic attacks.

“I saw numerous doctors in my area, but I wasn’t getting any better,” she shares. “I wasn’t able to get back to normal life, which for me, is working out almost every day.”


Discouraged, Judy says she began doing research online. She was starting to suspect she had a concussion.

“I came across a concussion blog by a man who had been in a car accident. He described symptoms very similar to mine and a prolonged recovery,” she says. “He went on to say that after seeing numerous local doctors, he ended up in Pittsburgh, at UPMC.

“This man shared that he was treated there by Micky Collins, PhD, and that within a few months he was ‘back to normal.’”

Judy called the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program that evening and left a message to make an appointment.


“Dr. Collins gave me specific exercises to do every day, which were tailored to treat my type of concussion,” she explains. “I also had to completely regulate my sleep schedule – no naps allowed!”

Dr. Collins also instructed Judy to get back into the pool. He wanted her to ease into her workouts.

“When you have a concussion, the natural inclination is to slow down your life,” she shares. “Everyone tells you to ‘rest’, but for me, the answer was to challenge myself to do more and more things. That was very surprising to me.”

Judy traveled to Pittsburgh twice before she was cleared of her concussion.

“For anyone experiencing prolonged symptoms of a concussion, I would contact UPMC,” she says. “You should seek out a professional trained in concussion management.

“Too many times I would hear ‘just wait it out.’ Life is too short for that!”


To learn more about our patients, read their stories.