From Concussion to Clarity: Sammy’s Story - Nemours Blog


From Concussion to Clarity: Sammy’s Story

In 2020 and again in 2021, Sammy had two serious falls, both caused by fainting. Each time, Sammy was told she just had a concussion. However, the second time, her symptoms never went away.

“I had a horrible headache that never left, the light continued to bother me and I wasn’t able to focus on stuff the way I normally did,” says Sammy. “I felt very limited during this time. I played volleyball and it would affect my ability to play. Being outside under the sun would cause me to get lightheaded and feel pain. I couldn’t touch my head much and I rarely pulled my hair up, unless it was for a game. It was even hard to sleep at night because of all the pressure I felt.”

While in an appointment with Dr. Leto Barone for a different condition, he asked Sammy about her concussion. As she explained her situation to him, Dr. Leto Barone quickly realized something unnoticed, Sammy had occipital neuralgia on her left side.

Occipital neuralgia, a common though lesser-known condition, often affects patients who have experienced concussions or other brain injuries resulting from trauma. This condition occurs when the occipital nerves are compressed by scar tissue, leading to shooting pains or migraines that can be severely debilitating for these patients. When Dr. Leto Barone discovered Sammy’s occipital neuralgia, he performed a nerve block with a local anesthetic to see if she would be a good candidate for nerve decompression surgery. After the injection, Sammy experienced immediate relief, and Dr. Leto Barone knew that moving forward with surgery could truly change her life. During the nerve decompression procedure, Dr. Leto Barone was able to make an incision in the tender area to locate and address the damaged and compressed nerve, relieving it from scar and making her pain free.

“In October of 2022, Dr. Leto Barone injected a nerve blocker and I felt instant relief,” says Sammy. “However, after this, I attended physical therapy and had to leave early because my headaches were too intense. So, I decided to move forward with surgery.”

“My surgeon was one of a kind and I couldn’t thank him enough,” says Sammy. “After months of going to Nemours, I was able to build a bond with all the nurses and doctors involved in my treatment. They were all amazing and actually listened to what was going on. They made me feel comfortable and I couldn’t have asked for a better staff to take care of me and my family.”

Sammy has made an incredible recovery since her surgery with Dr. Leto Barone. “I feel like I’m not constantly thinking about my headaches, and I can focus more on the things I’ve always enjoyed,” she says. “I can also sleep a lot better, which changes the way my days go. Overall, I’m excited to see long-lasting results.”

When asked what advice she would give to another patient going through something similar, Sammy says, “Continue to ask for help. Your feelings are very real and can be helped when you speak up. I would also say to play close attention to the way you feel after a bad fall or concussion. If you can find the right people to help you, your pain won’t last forever.”

Guest Contributor

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