Helping raise eight siblings, serving more than 13 years in the army and having a penchant for taking in wounded animals, Robert Glace, 57, of Montoursville, is used to being “the guy who takes care of everyone.” But following a serious 20-foot fall and resulting concussion, he grew to accept that this time, he was the one who needed help. Following an in-depth analysis with Yevgeny Zadov,
DO, medical director and chief physician for brain injury, Rob was referred to UPMC Susquehanna’s expert rehabilitation team for evaluation and treatment.
“When I first met Rob, he was so sensitive to sound and light [that] he had to be evaluated in our dark room wearing sunglasses with all the lights off and the door closed,” explains Marissa Rojas, occupational therapist. Therapists Kristin Shoop, Ariel Muhs and Marissa teamed up to create a specially tailored physical, speech and occupational therapy regimen that would keep Rob engaged while working to mitigate his concussion symptoms, such as light sensitivity, vision/speech issues and uneven balance. The team has been utilizing VOMS (vestibular, ocular, motor screening), a specific screening tool developed by UPMC’s concussion experts to detect and analyze lingering concussion symptoms by evaluating how well a person’s balance, vision and movement systems are working together.
“With a severe concussion, you have good days and bad days; it’s a roller coaster,” Rob admits. “Now, I’m having more and more of the good days, and that’s all thanks to my therapy team. These three musketeers mean the world to me, and I don’t know where I’d be without them or the support of my amazing family, especially my wife, Deborah. She comes with me to every appointment and makes sure I do my homework.” The homework in question is part of what Rob likes to call his new 40-hour work week: getting better. In addition to his on-site therapy three times a week, he does physical and mental exercises at home to improve cognition and reinforce his gains. Through fun, individualized exercises, such as NERF gun target practice, bike work, memory recall and multitasking, the team is able to challenge Rob to achieve more and more as he progresses in his rehabilitation.
“When I first arrived, I had trouble simply raising my eyes or walking a straight line. I had to concentrate hard and long on every word I wanted to speak, even little things like ‘the’ or ‘an.’ It’s frustrating not being able to express yourself clearly, to not be able to do what you’re used to doing, because I love my job, and I love to fix things. Right now, I’m working on fixing me. I’m getting much better. I’m more me—I can see it now—and with hard work, I know I’ll get all the way there.”