Getting Back in the Ring: Katie’s Concussion Recovery

Katie Saull is a Mixed Martial Artist who first came to the Centre for Natural Pain Solutions in 2014 when she was training as an amateur boxer. Throughout her time in the ring, Katie’s body endured bumps and bruises – but one hit in particular changed her life.

“I was training with someone who was fairly infamous with his intensity,” said Katie. “He’s a larger man, and he stepped off a powerful right hand and decided to drill it into my jaw, and so I hit my head on the padded wall behind me.” Katie described it as a whiplash motion, but thought nothing of it at the time.

Katie had taken countless hits before, but this one was different.

The Impact

“It was a bit of a stun,” Katie said. “What was interesting about it was [that] I was able to continue training, but what happened was someone else threw kind of a light punch after, and it felt harder than it needed to. It was very odd.”

The disorienting sensation continued long after the initial hit, and that’s when Katie knew something wasn’t right.

“I was very spacey, kind of looking at my coach a little funny, just felt like I was in a bit of a dream,” said Katie. “I felt very foggy, very strange. From there, things got progressively worse.”

 

Seeking help

Realizing she needed to seek treatment before the injury could do permanent damage to her body, Katie was referred by a colleague to the Centre for Natural Pain Solutions to see Dr. Roch a few days later.

“The first appointment with Dr. Roch was encouraging because I just knew he knew what he was talking about,” said Katie. She described what she was experiencing, the sensations – almost like vertigo at times – and that’s when she began a series of treatments with the team at the Centre for Natural Pain Solutions.

“The first six months were the hardest,” said Katie. “I couldn’t raise my heart rate without having some kind of setback, and setbacks are interesting because Dr. Roch will tell you, it’s kind of like climbing Mount Everest. Setbacks aren’t necessarily bad, it’s like you adjust, you come back, you adjust, you come back.”

The treatment resulted in a dramatic lifestyle change that took a toll on Katie both physically and mentally throughout her time working with the clinic.

“I was such an avid athlete and was just coming into what I wanted to do,” said Katie. “I wasn’t able to workout for nine months. I couldn’t raise my heart rate, my body changed, I couldn’t drink coffee. Luckily, I could drive and sometimes use devices with screens. It took everything from me. Everything. I was not a fun person to be around.”

Katie remembers it wasn’t all good times during her sessions and is grateful for the encouragement she received to continue the battle. “I remember coming in on some rough days,” said Katie. “I just remember [Dr. Roch’s] patience with me. He had some days when it was like, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to suck this up because it could be worse.’ It was because of who he was and how he approached this that I stuck to it.”

The Comeback

In three and a half years, Katie had almost 200 appointments at the clinic, with exercises focusing on balance, retraining brain-neck reflexes, and eye exercises to improve function.   “Katie is an elite athlete.  She worked her neuro program to the tee.  She finished treatment and was symptom-free, able to return to her sport. Katie could not have returned to the ring if it wasn’t for her drive to succeed“ Dr. Roch said.

At one time, Katie thought she’d never be able to step back into the ring, but thanks to her commitment and dedication to long-term recovery, she’s back in training and competing in MMA fights once again.

“I train six days a week, and then three of those days is twice at the very most,” said Katie. “The rest of those days are one practice, but there’s quite a bit involved in that. It equals out to at the very most 10 sessions in a week for me. If there’s more, it’s very, very light and technical.”

It’s been a remarkable road to recovery, and now, Katie’s ready to rumble again. Watch out!

To learn more about how to deal with concussions, please read more about functional neurology, or call 204-775-4539 to book an appointment.