New Millcreek clinic treats concussions

Zaihe Regus closed his eyes and stood still on a nearly 2-inch-thick piece of foam.

The Mercyhurst University freshman’s feet swayed slightly on the cushion, which is part of the Biodex Balance System. It measured how well Regus, 18, kept his body in balance.

“It’s like I’m standing on Jell-O,” Regus said.

Regus underwent the test Friday at the Concussion Clinic at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Medical Fitness & Wellness Center, 5401 Peach St.

Physicians have been treating Regus and others with concussions at the clinic since it opened in July. It is in LECOM’s Office of Sports Medicine and Integrated Care.

“This clinic formalizes what we have been doing informally for concussed patients for the past four or five years,” said Patrick Leary, D.O., who oversees the clinic as LECOM’s director of sports medicine.

Patients who visit Millcreek Community Hospital’s emergency department and are diagnosed with a concussion are now referred to the clinic. Athletes from Mercyhurst University, the Erie Otters, Erie BayHawks and Erie Explosion are also treated for concussions at the clinic, which is also open to the public.

Regus got his concussion Tuesday during a Mercyhurst football practice when he hit a teammate during a drill.

“At first I had headaches, and I couldn’t keep anything down,” Regus said.

Regus went to the clinic Wednesday and returned on Friday. Mercyhurst athletes with concussions visit the clinic every other day until they are allowed to resume their sport, Leary said. Leary and his staff gave Regus several tests to determine the severity of his concussion.

“A CT scan doesn’t tell you if there is a concussion,” Leary said. “We have them fill out an evaluation form that goes through all the possible symptoms. We give them exams and test their responses.”

Time is the best treatment for most concussions, which tend to heal within a week. More serious ones require therapy and, sometimes, medication.

Leary and his staff evaluate patients during each office visit. In addition to testing their balance on the Biodex machine, they also assess their memory, spatial thinking, vision and reaction time.

“When they no longer show any symptoms, we take them down to the fitness center and have them run 50-yard dashes, do pushups and situps, and perform some one-legged jumps,” Leary said. “We want to see if physical exertion aggravates their symptoms before we allow them back to practice.”

Regus was feeling much better Friday afternoon, but he wasn’t quite ready to participate in football practice, Leary said.

“It’s only been three days, and he’s feeling better,” Leary said. “He’s improving.”

DAVID BRUCE can be reached at 870-1736 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at