As a long-time athlete, a "blow to the head" was something 21-year-old Penn State student James Gindhart was used to experiencing. But in January 2011, one of those hits wasn't like the rest.
"I was playing ice hockey when I got elbowed in my head," says Gindhart, of Hamilton, NJ. "From that point, I don't remember anything." Gindhart says he was later told that he finished the game and had minimal symptoms. The next morning, however, he woke in a state of mind he had never experienced before. "I had no idea where I was when I woke up," he says.
"I also couldn't remember anything that had happened that week." Gindhart went to the hospital and the news that came next was something he had heard before – he had a concussion.
"I've had concussions, but this was more severe," says Gindhart. "This time I had something called post-concussion syndrome." His symptoms –headaches, dizziness and confusion – didn't seem to be subsiding and after the semester, he returned home and saw R. Robert Franks, Jr., DO, FAOASM, a Rothman sports medicine physician with expertise in concussion.
"Seeing Dr. Franks was the best thing I could have done," says Gindhart. "He cared so much about making sure I was safe and returning me to physical activity. The concussion changed my life in many ways and Dr. Franks was always there when I needed advice."
Gindhart began cognitive, vestibular and ophthalmologic (visual) therapy and while he says it was difficult, improvements did come. He now attends therapy sessions about two times a week and follows up with Dr. Franks about every eight weeks. "Dr. Franks made it his goal to return me to physical activity," says Gindhart.
"Being able to be active again and enter my junior year this January are things I wouldn't have been able to do without his help."