Jodi Radosh admits she was rushed on the afternoon of July 17, 2013. She was giving her old refrigerator one last scrubbing since she just received a new one and the old was going out in the garage. Her mind was elsewhere.
“I was busy with my two daughters and it was in the middle of a summer heat wave, I hadn’t eaten yet and was getting hungry. I was doing 18 things at once and I wasn’t even thinking when I stood up,” she remembers.
Then, Radosh hit her head—hard—on the freezer section above her old refrigerator.
“I knew I hit it really hard because my vision went black and I started seeing stars. I felt sick and I was crying because it hurt so bad,” she says.
Radosh called her husband, a family doctor, who advised her to stay still and ice her injury. But Radosh knew her responsibilities wouldn’t wait—she told herself she would be fine, sat for a few minutes with some ice, and tried to get on with her day. By later that evening, she thought she had recovered and dismissed the pain as just a bad headache. But the next morning, when she awoke to an intense migraine, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue and found it difficult to even stand up, she was scared. She knew something was very wrong.
“I felt like I was dying,” she says. “It felt like someone was smashing my head with a hammer and I was so nauseous and dizzy. I couldn’t take light and even the tiniest little noise drove me insane. I could barely get out of bed.”
After medical evaluations determined she had suffered a bad concussion, Radosh was forced to put her summer plans on the back burner. Though she was hopeful the symptoms would be short lived, they continued throughout the rest of the summer. She experience bad bouts of vertigo, constant and painful migraines, and was so fatigued that she could barely walk down the stairs. Even with the windows shut and shades closed at home, she still couldn’t handle noise and light. Jodi and her family were concerned: Why wasn’t she getting better?
Nearly two months after initial injury, Radosh began undergoing therapy at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital in Malvern, PA. A one-hour drive from her home in Sinking Spring, the first few trips were difficult for her.
“After my injury, I couldn’t even leave my house or get in the car to go anywhere because I couldn’t take any motion or be around any movement. The long trips to rehab were hard; we had to make stops along the way just so I could adjust,” she says.
Radosh began visiting the hospital weekly for ocular, physical, and vestibular therapy to address her motion sensitivity, neck problems, and eye problems. In her appointments, she finally began to find answers to questions she had had after her injury.
“I didn’t understand what was happening to me before going [to rehab]. I couldn’t leave my house, I couldn’t talk to people face to face – especially more than one person at a time. For nearly 6 months, I couldn’t look at my phone, or read, or watch TV or go on the computer. My whole life was put on hold, but my therapists helped explain everything to me,” she says. “I finally understood that I had a very bad concussion and it could take a long while before I was myself again. I don’t think people realize how debilitating and devastating concussions can be.”
Of her care at Bryn Mawr Rehab, Radosh says she appreciated the team approach to treatment.
“You need a support system to get through an injury like this, and I have that team support. My therapy team: physical therapists Beth Kolar and Kris Heintzelman, and occupational therapist Rita Marck as well as [neurologist] Dr. Long get together every Monday to talk about my case and make sure they’re all on the same page. They are good listeners, and they reassure me that we’ll get through this together. They have been a wonderful support system! I couldn’t get through this without them,” she says.
Now, 10 months after her injury, Radosh is slowly making progress, but says she knows she’s not back to where she was last July. She can watch TV, although only certain shows, and is starting to get out more. After her injury, Radosh wasn’t able to drive and even had trouble being a passenger when others drove her. Now, she is doing some driving locally. She says it has been very difficult not being able to return to her job as a college professor at Alvernia University.
“I really miss being on campus, but I feel fortunate my work has been so supportive and understanding,” she says.
She continues appointments at Bryn Mawr Rehab once every four-six weeks, and part of her therapy includes going to the mall and exposing herself again to crowds and stimulating environments.
“It’s a very slow recovery. I was a Type A, very busy person trying to balance being a mother, wife, volunteer, and college professor. I was just like everyone else…we’re all trying to balance a million things at once, and this injury really rocked my world,” she says.
Radosh started a concussion support group, and has found many other people in her area who have had similar experiences with concussions. The group meets regularly to discuss their progress, as some members are further out from their injuries than others. And when it comes to offering advice for concussion care, Radosh is always the first to share her story of care at Bryn Mawr Rehab. She has already referred several people.
“It’s a longer ride for us, about over an hour, but it’s worth it. My family and I have become such advocates for patients with brain injuries and concussions to go to Bryn Mawr Rehab. We can’t speak highly enough for the care that I’ve received.”