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Training With A Concussion

posted on January 25, 2024

A few weeks ago, I was playing ice hockey and fell backwards during one of our practice game drills. For those of you familiar with the game of hockey, you know that there is minimal padding on the backside of your body as you are supposed to fall forward or to the side when you play. Unfortunately, I lost control and caught my backwards fall with my head. I knew that I was doomed immediately because I did not remember what we were just doing or how I exactly fell. Luckily this happened with about five minutes left of practice, so I just left the ice and drove home. I was experiencing tension headaches, light and sound sensitivity, extreme fatigue, brain fog, and trouble with focusing while in busy environments.


I was able to get in with the UPMC Concussion Clinic doctors two days after it happened, so treatment began quickly. Since then, I have also started Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy once/week on top of my typical training here at UF. During my computer and physical assessments, the doctors found that my eyes are having trouble focusing and working together, and my short-term memory capacity is terrible.


Part of my concussion treatment program is to take part in exertional therapy, which is intended to induce my symptoms but will speed up my recovery process and have me feeling better soon. If any of you have ever had a concussion, you know how difficult it can be to get back into your normal everyday routine without feeling fatigued and defeated. No matter how tired and weak I am feeling, I make it a point to do my exercises and train my brain and the rest of my body daily.


Here’s a quick overview of what my exercise program looks like for someone with the specific type of concussion and symptoms that I have:


  1. Brock String – hold a string with colored beads at eye level starting at the tip of your nose – shift focus between the beads until you begin to see two beads of every color while focusing on one at a time. Continue working through each colored bead, focusing individually on each one at a time. Repeat 10 times.


  1. Pencil “pushups” – hold the pencil at arms length away and focus on the tip of the pencil – bring the pencil in towards your nose and when it becomes double try to make it clear – then bring the pencil back outwards and repeat. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.


  1. Vertical & Horizontal Saccades – moving the eyes up and down and then on a diagonal from each target (a piece of paper with an X drawn on it) as quick as you can for 30 seconds in each direction. Repeat 3 times.


  1. Walk in a straight line while moving your head up and down then walking in a straight line while moving your head side to side. Repeat each movement down and back 3 times.


  1. Backwards ball tosses with a partner – stand with your back facing your partner behind you – toss the ball to one side and when your partner catches it, have them toss to the opposite side (shown in video on Instagram). Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps/side.


  1. Vertical ball movement – hold the ball in front of you – extend the ball up overhead and then follow it with your eyes/head down to the ground. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.


  1. Visit a busy environment as often as I can (grocery store, gym, etc.) – since I work in a gym that hasn’t been an issue. This will help me out with my sensitivity to movement, sounds, lights, etc.


  1. I have added in 20 minutes of cardio/day. I’ve been riding the Ryde bikes or a recumbent bike if the Ryde bikes aren’t available for 10 minutes at a moderate intensity, and then hopping on the treadmill for a 10-minute incline walk or 10-12 minute run/walk intervals. If I am at home and the weather stinks, I will ride the Peloton bike for 20-25 minutes that day.


I don’t think I’m forgetting anything here, but this is my very basic treatment program that I just started following this past week. I am hoping to add in some more heavy weights and a higher intensity of cardio in this upcoming week.


If you have any past concussion experience and would like to talk about how you dealt with it whether that be training or just existing, I would love to chat!


Hope you all have a great rest of your week,



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