According to research by the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, one in ten high school athletes in the United States who play contact sports will suffer a concussion each year they play.\nOne of those athletes is Melissa, a high school soccer player from Cleveland, Ohio. She has sustained four sports-related concussions in her career, one of which caused her to have year-long headaches.\nWhen she later experienced sharp neck pain, dizziness, and headaches following a hit during a fall soccer game, Melissa\u2019s family was eager to have her evaluated.\n\u201cConcussion is a serious medical issue that requires prompt clinical attention by a health professional trained in concussions,\u201d said Micky Collins, PhD, clinical and executive director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.\n\u201cAfter sustaining a possible concussion, athletes should immediately be removed from play.\n\u201cOnce an injury has occurred, the brain is in an extremely vulnerable state and more susceptible to additional injury.\u201d\nMelissa was first assessed by her team\u2019s athletic trainer, who encouraged her to follow up with her doctor if her concussion\u00a0symptoms persisted. She began seeing a local neurologist, and started taking medication for headaches, but saw little improvement.\nHer academics also suffered. In school, Melissa reported having:\n\nLoss of focus and concentration\nTrouble completing homework, as it felt harder and took longer to complete\nDifficulty with test taking\n\n\u201cGetting a concussion can affect more than just a person\u2019s status onto the team roster or ability to play a sport or work out,\u201d \u00a0Dr. Collins said. \u201cOne of the hardest parts about having a concussion is dealing with the toll it takes on a student\u2019s academic life.\u201d\nFrustrated with a lack of progress and the emergence of these new symptoms, Melissa\u2019s mother started looking online for options. She found ReThinkConcussions.com and called the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program to schedule an appointment.\nFounded in 2000, the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program sees more than 17,000 patients annually, produces more published research than any program that followed and continues to set the standards of care. The program is internationally renowned for pioneering ImPACT\u00ae, a tool that establishes a benchmark for a patient\u2019s normally functioning brain activities.\nTo learn more about the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, visit ReThinkConcussions.com or call 412-432-3681.\n\u201cWe perform a thorough assessment of concussion, which includes neurocognitive evaluation with ImPACT\u00ae, a detailed clinical interview that discusses symptoms, and an evaluation, or screening, of vestibular and ocular-motor functioning,\u201d Dr. Collins said.\nMelissa and her family traveled to Pittsburgh, where she met with Dr. Collins and his team for a comprehensive clinical evaluation, including taking the ImPACT\u00ae test. From there, the clinical team developed an individualized treatment plan for her, which included vestibular and exertion therapy, as well as accommodations in school.\n\u201cBecause no two concussions are alike, there\u2019s no simple timetable for recovery,\u201d Dr. Collins said. \u201cSome athletes recover in days, others require weeks or months.\n\u201cWe\u2019ve identified six\u00a0unique clinical trajectories for concussion. Every trajectory requires specific treatment.\u201d\nDr. Collins leads a program consisting of more than 30 faculty and staff members, all of whom are devoted entirely to assessing, treating, rehabilitating, and researching concussion. They include:\n\nNeuropsychologists\nPrimary care sports medicine physicians\nNeurosurgeons\nPhysical medicine and rehabilitation physicians\nNeurovestibular and exertional physical therapists\nCognitive rehabilitation specialists\nCertified athletic trainers\n\nThe concussion program team continually re-examines patients to evaluate their progress and promote successful rehabilitation.\nFor Melissa, once she began her vestibular and exertion therapy exercises twice a day, she finally felt like she had the tools she needed to get better. A month after her initial appointment with Dr. Collins and his team, she was finally headache-free and cleared to return to soccer.\n\u201cI came [to UPMC] thinking I would be told I could never play soccer again, but after completing my exercise program, I was preparing for spring soccer,\u201d Melissa said.