Concussions—Not Just For Athletes

With the recent release of “Concussion” in movie theaters, much attention has been given to the subject of concussion injuries in sports. But concussions don’t just occur on the football field. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can occur in non-athletes at the workplace, in the home or while out performing daily tasks or errands. We asked Makayla Tremel, PTA to share her own experience with the topic:

A year-and-a-half ago I was loving life and in excellent health. I was halfway through training for my first half marathon. Little did I know that on a warm Monday morning in August all of that would change. I was at work seeing patients as usual when I had a few cancellations come up. I took advantage of this “down time” to complete regular chemical maintenance to our department’s therapy pool. Unfortunately, I injured myself on an unforgiving metal beam in the process. I remember being in tremendous pain, thinking to myself, “Geez, I about gave myself a concussion.”

Actually, that’s exactly what had happened.

After 20 minutes of icing my head the pain subsided, and new symptoms arose. I couldn’t focus. I felt nauseated and in a daze. Stubborn me, I ignored my symptoms but eventually was unable to competently function at work and had to go home. I even resisted going to the doctor until two co-workers came to my house to check on me. I reluctantly went to the E.R. that night and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Statistically, 80 percent of people who experience a concussion recover in a few days to a week. Unfortunately, I was one of the unlucky 20 percent and took much longer to recover. For many weeks I felt like a prisoner in my own body. So many things I enjoyed doing I couldn’t participate in as they made my symptoms worse. It took me two-and-a-half months  and treatment across physical, occupational, speech and vision therapies to return to work at full-time status, but even longer to feel “normal” again.

Before my injury I did not appreciate the seriousness of a concussion. I thought it was something that happened primarily in contact sports, and I never thought I would be the victim of that type of injury, especially at my workplace.

Through my personal experience, I have become much more empathetic to my patients who have experienced a TBI. Since my own injury I’ve even worked with several individuals whose concussion occurred from non-athletic events (falls, motor vehicle accidents, etc.). I feel it is our duty as healthcare professionals to continue to educate the community on concussions and concussion management.

Find resources to help you educate and care for patients who have experienced a TBI, including concussion, on the APTA website.


Makayla Tremel, PTA has been practicing since 2009. She is certified in ASTYM and LSVT BIG (a specialized treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders). She has also taken additional training in aquatic therapy, and she is the team lead for this program at her facility.



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