Kristie | New York, NY
While driving into New York City in August 2015, Kristie, 33, was involved in a three car pileup on the George Washington Bridge. She went to the hospital after sustaining a head injury and underwent a CT scan. She received a neck brace and was sent home.
Kristie was barely able to make it to work due to extreme fatigue, so she suspected she may have a concussion. It took three months for her to get an appointment at a concussion center, where she was finally diagnosed with a concussion.
While concussed, Kristie experienced the following symptoms:
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Throbbing headaches
- Excessive fatigue
Kristie began a treatment plan prescribed by the center in New York City but after several months, she was still experiencing painful symptoms, wanted to sleep all the time, and could barely work. As a business development officer, Kristie uses a computer all day. It gave her a “horrific headache.” She tried sunglasses to help with her sensitivity to light, including that coming from the computer screen, but they didn’t work. She also reported feeling like she was in a constant fog, despite the treatments she was receiving.
When Kristie had to keep missing work, not to mention her wedding was fast approaching, she knew it was time to take more drastic actions to get better. She had a friend who was treated at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh so he encouraged Kristie to go there for treatment.
Exactly one year after her car accident, Kristie met with Micky Collins, PhD, executive and clinical director at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Her first assignment was to complete the ImPACT® test, a tool that establishes a benchmark for a patient’s normally functioning brain activities. The results of the test helped Dr. Collins determine that she needed to be put on a strict lifestyle regimen including dynamic cardiovascular exercise, eating and hydrating regularly, and not sleeping during the day. He also gave her vestibular and ocular exercises to work on at home.
“Dr. Collins encouraged me to go back to work full time, to do everything I would’ve done before the concussion and not hold back,” Kristie says. “He explained that the biggest indicator of me getting better was getting back to work.”
Back in New York, Kristie was able to do her prescribed exercises for three weeks before it was time for her to tie the knot. In that short time, she was already feeling better than she had in over a year.
“Had I not met Dr. Collins, I would not have been able to enjoy my wedding day at all,” says Kristie.
Six weeks after her first appointment at UPMC, Kristie’s ImPACT® test scores had greatly improved. Her vision was still lagging, but Dr. Collins encouraged her to keep up with her exercises and keep pushing through. She continued with her vestibular therapy and her eye exercises, and often participates in physical exercise.
After visiting UPMC one final time in December 2016, Kristie was cleared of her concussion, has returned to full time work, and finally feels like herself again.
“I owe Dr. Collins a debt of gratitude,” says Kristie. “I thought I was never going to get better. But if you follow the program they set out for you at UPMC, you have the potential to get a lot better than you’d ever think was possible.”
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