Kayla | Pittsburgh, PA

Kayla | Pittsburgh, PA

In 2012, as a freshman at North Allegheny High School, Kayla sustained a concussion while swimming the backstroke during her school’s swim meet. The flags above the pool weren’t in place that day, making her mistime the turn at the end of the lane, hitting her forehead and nose on the pool wall. A large bump quickly appeared on her forehead so Kayla went home and iced it.
Kayla’s mom, a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, didn’t think it was anything serious since Kayla had already been experiencing frequent headaches. She went to school for the next three days but the headaches continued, she couldn’t focus, and she was constantly tired.

Kayla Churman

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Kayla expressed her concern to her swim coaches, who had her take the ImPACT test®. When her scores were not consistent with her baseline scores, the school’s athletic trainers referred her to Micky Collins, PhD, at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.


While concussed, Kayla recalls experiencing the following symptoms:


Kayla received vestibular therapy at the Vestibular Laboratory within UPMC’s Center for Balance Disorders in Oakland. Her therapists had her perform various exercises to improve her imbalance and dizziness. She took some time off of school and from swimming. The hiatus from swimming, according to Kayla, not only helped her heal but also renewed her love for the sport.


An avid swimmer, Kayla received a swim scholarship to the University of Kentucky. Her strength in the 200m backstroke qualified her for the U.S. Olympic Team trials in Omaha, NE, preceding the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“If it weren’t for the great care Dr. Collins and his team provided me, I may never have recovered from my concussion,” says Kayla. “Swimming is so important to me and I can’t imagine my life without it.

I hope to combine my interests in medicine and swimming by becoming a pediatric Physician’s Assistant and an assistant swim coach. I feel like I have a lot to teach other kids after my experiences in both fields!”


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