John was enjoying a horseback ride on a ranch just north of Dallas, Texas, in November 2020 when, suddenly, his horse caught its hoof on something and took a tumble.
The Challenge: A Fall From His Horse
“I was wearing a helmet. But when I fell, I hit my chin really hard, which was unprotected,” says John. “I never lost consciousness, but I knew I had a concussion right away.”
John is no stranger to concussions. He’d already had three — playing high school football, college lacrosse, and a recreational game of squash.
This time around, his symptoms included:
- Vision impairment
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John’s Path to UPMC for Concussion Treatment
Hear John had experienced a concussion, friend mentioned she had heard good things about a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh named Michael “Micky” Collins, PhD. But Jon already had appointments to see doctors in Dallas — and he wanted to stay close to home during his recovery.
The doctors in Dallas advised him to sit, wait, and avoid things like bright lights and loud noise in order to heal. After a month, John wasn’t getting better.
Unhappy with this advice, John asked a family member, who is an orthopaedic surgeon, to recommend a concussion doctor who could help him recover.
“I was willing to go anywhere in the country to see someone that he recommended. He suggested Dr. Micky Collins,” says John. “Upon hearing this, I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence — of all the possible options, the same doctor was recommended to me twice.”
The Solution: Telemedicine and Remote Treatment
Given the distance between Texas and Pennsylvania and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, John set up a telemedicine appointment with Dr. Collins at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. After just one meeting, John understood his concussion better than before.
He learned that he had sustained a vestibular concussion, a diagnosis he had not received from the other doctors. A vestibular concussion affects the balance center of the brain, causing issues with balance, motion, and vision.
“Dr. Collins was so knowledgeable and explained my concussion diagnosis to me,” says John. “Before meeting with him, I had no idea that there are six different types of concussions, let alone which type I had sustained.”
Unlike John’s previous doctors, Dr. Collins told him that rest and reduced stimuli was the exact opposite of what he needed. While a short rest period is sometimes helpful, research and patient outcomes show it takes more than that. An active treatment approach — one that forces the brain to readapt to stimuli — is key to making a full recovery.
“He informed me that anxiety and depression can often be associated with vestibular concussions, and sitting in a dark room doing nothing can exacerbate those side effects and create more problems,” says John. “Instead, he wanted me to get out of the house, throw myself back into work and exercise, and not think about my concussion. He wanted me to go out and get back to life.”
The Results: A Return to His Active Lifestyle
After just two telemedicine appointments with Dr. Collins, John was back to his routine and feeling like himself again — without leaving his Dallas home. At the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, each patient’s treatment is personalized and tailored to their specific goals. John was fortunate to recover after two telemedicine appointments. Some concussion treatments take longer to treat and require some in-person care.
“My experience with Dr. Collins was great, even though I have never met him in person,” says John. “Telemedicine allowed me to see a top-notch doctor like him from the comfort of my home. I was able to avoid having to pay for travel, lodging, and other expenses. Plus, my prescribed treatment didn’t even feel like a treatment regimen — Dr. Collins encouraged me to get back to living my life.”
John is grateful to Dr. Collins and his team of concussion experts who helped him get back on track.
“I only saw Dr. Collins twice, and at the first visit I felt that the level of care that I got was above what I was receiving from other providers in person,” says John. “Dr. Collins did his best to listen, understand my particular circumstances and personality type, and prescribe what would be best for me and my recovery. For that, I am deeply grateful.”
Visit our website to learn more or call us at 412-432-3681 for an appointment.
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About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.