Getting Back to Life

Posted December 14, 2019
Getting back to life
After a 7-year journey, Peter Whitelaw is undoubtedly thrilled to fully recover from his concussion.

“I was riding my bicycle with my friends on my way to Horseshoe Bay and went through a corner and fell,” says Peter. “I had actually cracked my collarbone so I went to the hospital. I was slightly knocked out for a few seconds, but they didn’t think I had a concussion.”

It wasn’t until a few weeks after his accident in May 2012, that Peter began to experience concussion symptoms such as extreme fatigue and tension headaches.

At the time, Peter was working as a community planning consultant and soon found it difficult to cope with his symptoms and having to spend the majority of his time in front of a computer.

“Some of the stuff I was doing at the time was facilitating public meetings, which you could imagine with a concussion, are not easy to do,” says Peter. “It became very difficult to drive, and going to meetings was very challenging.”

After 3-4 weeks of living with his symptoms, Peter sought the help of his doctor who gave him an official concussion diagnosis and also advised him to stop work. His doctor referred him to a concussion rehab service, where their help was limited to simple lifestyle management advice. “At the time, there wasn’t nearly as much awareness as there is now about what can be done and how to manage different symptoms.”

Peter reduced his work schedule to 3 days a week, and lived with this new reality and his symptoms for years. He would often take several naps a day just to feel some relief from the fatigue.

“I was getting pretty frustrated and depressed,” says Peter. “I was starting to think I would never really get back to do the things I’d done before. That was frustrating and difficult to deal with.”

On a personal level, Peter says his concussion also impacted his ability to be social and see friends, since social interactions often left him feeling very tired and background noise made it hard to enjoy social settings.

In May 2019, Peter sought the help of ACC after seeing an advertisement and looking for some opportunity to improve his situation. ACC’s interdisciplinary team of concussion specialized Physiotherapists, Athletic Therapists, Counsellors, Occupational Therapists, and Neuropsychologist, was able to highlight some deficits for Peter, and help him recover and progress from the injury.

One of Peter’s biggest deficits was his Vestibular and Ocular-Motor function, which was identified via the VOMS test, which looks to identify the systems responsible for the integration of balance, vision and movement.

“I was pretty surprised by the disability in that area, and also really happy with how the treatment was done and the progression of my recovery.”

After several months of rehab with the ACC team, Peter fully recovered from his concussion and counts the quality of life, and productivity at work as his two biggest accomplishments.

“I’m way better than I was. I’m working for myself right now, and I’m perfectly capable to go back to work full-time.”

Interdisciplinary Concussion Management

Recovery is possible.