Meaghan K

On the night of April 5th, 2016 I was hit in the back of the head with a softball while playing in an intermural softball game. Shortly after I was taken to the Emergency Room because I was not able to talk correctly, walk normally, had vastly dilated pupils, and an extreme headache. In the Emergency Room it was determined that I had received a concussion when the softball hit my head. I was instructed to not attend school until I was evaluated by a sports medicine doctor and concussion specialist in the area, and to follow his orders regarding my recovery process.

My case is much more severe than other concussion cases because in high school I sustained two, level three concussions in one month. This caused serious damage to my long and short-term memory, resulting in my inability to remember weeks of my life, miss weeks of school, and have side effects lasting for a year. The two concussions have caused damage to my vision impairing my ability to see at night.

On April 8th, 2016. I had my first appointment with the concussion specialist where I took an Impact Test, which determined my brain’s cognition and reaction to be in the lower second percentile. He instructed me to have total mental rest, meaning to lie in a room with the absence of sound, light, and any form of mental stimulation, giving my brain the opportunity to heal. In the following four weeks I had numerous appointments with the concussion specialist who determined my brains cognition was still very low. At this point in the recovery process 90% people who have suffered a concussion will have subsided side effects allowing for normal activity to restart. In my case Dr. Phillips determined that I was not healing properly from my minimal Impact Test score and lingering painful concussion symptoms. Every appointment I had with Dr. Phillips he stressed the importance of allowing my brain to heal and how recovery was my number one goal.

On April 22nd, 2016 I had my first neurovestibular physical therapy session where it was determined that I had permanently altered the receptors in my ear that communicate between the eyes and brain. This caused impairments in my balance and eye tracking and recognition. I began working during physical therapy to train my brain to make adjustments to correct these problems, however it would make me very dizzy and sick. I continued physical therapy twice a week until May 5th, 2016.

On May 5th, 2016 I returned home from my university where I was told to remain on brain rest until further evaluation from the doctor May 7th, 2016 when I collapsed during church as a result of my concussion and was referred to a concussion specialist in my hometown. The following week, on May 11th, 2016 I had an appointment with the new doctor who concluded that I was still not properly recovering from my concussion and said I was medically unable to return to Tampa for summer classes. He instructed me to start to attend neurovestibular physical therapy in Pensacola, Florida and remain on brain rest at all other time.

I was referred to attend physical therapy in my hometown with a trained neurovestibular therapist. During the initial evaluation on May 23rd, 2016, it was determined that the crystals in my ear were out of place, and had been that way since my concussion, which was causing my extreme dizziness and balance problems, commonly called vertigo. At this point in time I had received my concussion eight weeks ago.  During the past eight weeks I had been experiencing vertigo. I continued to attend physical therapy twice a week, working on controlling the vertigo, increasing my eye movement and coordination, and improve short-term my memory, until the month of August, a full four months after my concussion.

Currently, six months after the concussion I am making slow progress. I had an appointment with a retina specialist to determine if there was any long-term damage to one of my optic nerves. Due to the concussion I no longer can see well at night or to afar distances, which result in the necessity for glasses and continual optometry appointments.

Prior to my concussion I was fortunate enough to receive health insurance through a plan, which encompasses my family. The health insurance has truly saved my life. Without having insurance I do not think I would have been able to receive the extensive medical assistance necessary to survive this serious brain injury. The health insurance allowed me to be under the care of two very prominent concussion specialist doctors, both of which took my case with the utmost importance. If I were unable to be provided with the level of care I would not have known the true extent to which I was injured. I would not have known the true importance of brain rest to my life. I would have returned to college classes, which would have caused permanent brain damage.

The health insurance has allowed me to attend a specialized physical therapy program, neurovestibular physical therapy, twice a week for four months. The physical therapy provided me with the professionals who put a stop to my vertigo and allowed for me to function normally in life again. I had to learn how to coordinate my eye movements, walk in a straight line, balance, and was guided on how to improve my short-term memory. All of the assistance I received made me self-sufficient once again; a freedom I had not known in months. The health insurance will allow me to correct the permanent visual impairments caused by the concussion. Without health insurance I can positively state that I would not have been able to afford the extensive financial burden from the countless specialist doctor appointments and physical therapy sessions. Health insurance truly did provide the means to save my brain cognition and ultimately my life.

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