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Walter's Story: A Team Approach to Complete Concussion Care

The Challenge: Searching for a Diagnosis

Walter, 50, suffered a concussion while on vacation with his wife. Their trip to Wales became less than enjoyable when the onset of his symptoms began to take over.

Walter bumped his head on a wooden beam in his hotel room when reaching down to grab his cell phone. Right after striking the top of his skull, he fell backward and felt another crack as his head hit the floor.

Walter had concussions in the past, so he knew what signs to check for. But this time, he didn't pass out or feel nauseous like he did with his prior concussions.

“I've had concussions before. They would resolve themselves within a matter of days or weeks," Walter says. “But I'd never felt anything quite like this."

Unlike his other concussions, he quickly noticed changes such as:

  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines

Walter spent the rest of his trip resting and trying to feel better, but his symptoms got too severe. He couldn't function for more than a few hours of the day, leaving very little time to enjoy his family vacation.

Walter's Path to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program

When Walter and his wife returned home to New York City, Walter went to the ER right away.

Making no progress getting treatment in the ER, he decided to make an appointment with his general practitioner. After the exam, Walter's doctor didn't believe that he had a concussion.

But Walter knew something was wrong and pursued second opinions from other doctors. None of them gave him a productive plan for treating his concussion.

After weeks with no treatment plan, Walter's concussion symptoms became more intense.

“I was having severe cognition issues," Walter shares. “I was having problems reading and focusing, as well as great trouble word-finding."

He began doing his own research and tried some at-home remedies to relieve his symptoms. He tried acupuncture, shiatsu massage, and other methods that didn't work.

“Nobody was giving me anything productive," he says.

Walter turned to the internet for guidance. He began searching for “positive concussion stories," which he hoped would lead him to an effective treatment plan for his own concussion.

In doing so, he found a blog from a former patient of Michael “Micky" Collins, PhD, director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

After reading about the patient's concussion experience and treatment at UPMC, Walter felt inspired to check out the program for himself. He called right away, and they scheduled him to see Dr. Collins within a month.

“I was pretty nervous," Walter recalls. “I was hoping he wasn't going to be another doctor who said he couldn't help me."

The Solution: An Active Treatment Plan

The treatment methods at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program instantly reassured Walter that his condition was treatable.

“Dr. Collins told me he knew exactly what to do for me," he says. “He told me my case wasn't unusual or complex."

Walter's concussion treatment followed an active approach of intense and consistent exercise over 5 weeks. Core exercises challenged his brain, and various ocular exercises helped his eyes.

Walter's treatment plan combined the expertise of many Concussion Program specialists, providing a team approach to complete concussion care.

Together, the experts at UPMC worked to effectively treat Walter's concussion symptoms.

The Results: A Full Recovery

Walter traveled near and far for an effective concussion treatment plan. Finding the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh helped him get his life back.

Currently, Walter volunteers at a blindness agency and continues to work out on a routine basis.

Now that his cognitive function has returned and he's fully recovered from his concussion, he's ready to return to the workforce.

“I credit Dr. Collins with getting me back on track," Walter says.

Walter is grateful for the team at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and how each of them helped in his recovery.

Read more stories from concussion patients.