Ray W. | Pittsburgh, PA

Ray W. | Pittsburgh, PA


Posted on April 4, 2016

While commissioning a new boiler, Ray, who owns a heating and cooling business, found himself in a room with a combustion analyzer showing carbon monoxide (CO) levels rising rapidly. If those CO levels rose too high, he wouldn’t be able to complete the start-up of the boiler.ray

To avoid delay and shut off the analyzer, Ray jumped up to pull the probe from the chimney. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the black iron pipe directly above him.

“My head crashed into it and the impact caused me to see stars everywhere,” says Ray. “My legs were wobbly.”

Ray fought through pain and dizziness to get the boiler started, but left the jobsite with a bad headache.

“Two weeks later, the dizzy spells started,” he recalls, “especially when getting out of a chair.”


Ray says migraines became a daily occurrence and that his brain seemed to be a in a fog. Daily tasks became more difficult, as did reading. If he was in a noisy place, it would set off a painful headache and visual disturbances.

“Driving at night was almost impossible as the opposing car headlights felt like daggers in my eyes,” Ray recalls. “I had to nap daily due to extreme fatigue.”

Perhaps the worst symptoms Ray experienced were panic attacks.

“I was at a convention when the first panic attack hit. Had to stop and catch my breath,” he says. “The second one happened when I was inside a car wash.

“I kept pushing the brake pedal thinking I was moving even though my car was in park. I thought I was going crazy.”

When they started to notice mood changes in their father, Ray’s adult children encouraged him to see his primary care physician.

“My PCP thought I had a concussion after I told her I had banged my head,” says Ray. “I disagreed. I had hit my head numerous times before and never felt this way. Surely hitting my head on a pipe wouldn’t cause a concussion.”


Still, Ray took his PCP’s advice and sought help from Micky Collins, PhD, at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. His initial appointment included completion of the ImPACT® test and some other neurocognitive testing.

“They confirmed the concussion diagnosis and had me begin a rehabilitation program,” says Ray. “The exercises included games purposely designed to trigger headaches and dizziness.”


Three months later, Ray began to feel better.

“I was lucky to have a concussion expert like Dr. Collins in my hometown. I celebrate each day that is headache-free.”


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