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Brian's Story: Professional Baseball Player Avoids Early Retirement

The Challenge: The Threat of an Early Retirement

For 14 seasons as a pro baseball player, Brian Roberts knew his sport played a vital role in his life. But he didn't know just how vital until two concussions almost removed baseball from his life entirely.

After a strikeout in a 2010 game, Roberts banged his bat against his helmet and got his first concussion.

“A self-inflicted wound," he joked. “Not the way to go out."

In early 2011, while sliding head first into a base, Brian sustained his second concussion and his symptoms got more intense:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation

A number of doctors advised Brian to retire, at age 33. Instead, he went to see Micky Collins, PhD, and the team of experts at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

The Solution: A Precise Diagnosis and Active Rehab Plan

Following tests and exams, Dr. Collins diagnosed Brian with a vestibular concussion, which integrates balance, vision, and motion sensory.

To treat Brian and get him back to baseball, the UPMC team designed a rehab plan of exercises and activities. The treatment eventually helped to resolve Brian's symptoms and restore his vestibular function.

Dr. Collins cleared him to play, and Brian returned to start at second base in mid-2012.

Brian's care at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program helped him understand why he had such a complex recovery. It was due to some of his personal and physical health issues — like the two concussions and a history of carsickness.

His individualized concussion treatment helped him overcome a rough recovery.

The Results: A Return to the Pros

“Even after 10 years in professional sports, I still didn't know a lot about concussions — since I never had one," Brian says. “But in September 2010, that all changed right away when I suffered my first one."

“After my second one in 2011, Dr. Collins and UPMC gave me the guidance, wisdom, and rehabilitation I needed. They helped me learn what was going on physically and mentally. And they gave me a chance to return to pro sports," says Brian. "Besides my wife, I can't think of anyone more instrumental than Dr. Collins was in my recovery. Just the amount of time he took, the amount of encouragement, his knowledge, all those things. He has meant a lot to me as a friend and certainly as a great doctor, as well."

Read more stories from concussion patients.