Norma | Pittsburgh, PA

If you keep moving and stay active, you actually start to feel better.


Norma | Pittsburgh, PA

As a resident of Squirrel Hill, Norma frequently uses the bus for transportation around the city. On a cold winter day in January 2016, Norma was getting off the bus when the man behind her tripped and fell into her, causing Norma to fall onto the sidewalk and hit her head. The man was kind enough to wait with her until an ambulance arrived to take her to UPMC Presbyterian, where she needed seven stitches in her head and was diagnosed with a concussion.


While concussed, Norma experienced the following concussion-related symptoms:
•    Dizziness
•    Exhaustion
•    Imbalance
•    Nausea

RELATED: Concussion Clinical Trajectories


Norma was referred to Micky Collins, PhD, at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Dr. Collins had her perform certain tests on a computer at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, to track her recovery progress. However, most of her vestibular therapy was performed at the Vestibular Laboratory within UPMC’s Center for Balance Disorders in Oakland.

Norma’s therapists had her perform various exercises to improve her imbalance and dizziness, caused by calcium carbonate crystals, or otoconia, coming out of place in her inner ear. Physical therapists had her lie on a table while they did certain head maneuvers to put the crystals back in place.


“I felt nauseous and tired after my treatment, but I couldn’t take a nap because Dr. Collins encourages you to keep going with your normal routine,” says Norma. “If you keep moving and stay active, you actually start to feel better.”

“Dr. Collins also told me to try new things in order to power through my concussion symptoms and feel better,” Norma continues. “If you go to the mall, walk down the center instead of hugging the walls. Go to a new restaurant because the layout will be different than what you’re used to so you can challenge yourself. If you typically take walks, try a new route so you can train your brain to walk on different sidewalks.”

Related: ReThinking the Restful Approach to Concussion Recovery

Norma was cleared of her concussion after eight months and went back to her part-time work as a store clerk. She is now extra careful when getting off the bus.


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