My name is Austin Farley and I play professional ice hockey (SHL) in Sweden. During the 2018-19 hockey season I received two concussions in a short time span; one the end of October, and the second the end of December. After months of treatment overseas with team doctors and physicians I was able to come back for our playoff run. I was like a kid in a candy store to get back on the ice after that long… but something was still wrong, I felt a bit off. After our season ended, making it to the quarter finals, I was able to return to my hometown of Niles, IL. I spent the next couple weeks with family and friends, but my post-concussion symptoms were still haunting me. Headache, dizziness, fatigue, loss of interest in a lot of things I loved were just a few of the symptoms. After seeing numerous doctors and eye doctors I was finally put into contact with a neurologist Dr. Reams, who recommended physical, vestibular, and ocular therapy. I was happy to finally find out what exactly was causing my symptoms but I would be lying if I thought I would ever return to how I felt … that is until I met Kimi Smith, my ultimate savior and physical therapist at Athletico Niles/Northwest Chicago.
Going through your entire day with headaches and dizziness and only being 25 can make you doubt a lot of things in life but Kimi would not take doubt or no for an answer. Her commitment to me as a person, my job and love for hockey is why I will be forever grateful for getting me to return to the sport I love and feeling better than I have ever felt. I met Kimi at Athletico three times a week, starting from scratch with what would be very easy for any other person was extremely difficult for me. Being an elite athlete my entire life, my frustration would boil up but she was always there to tell me, “it will come, just trust me.” She was there to jump up and down with joy when I would finally do an exercise after doing it numerous times and say “I don’t feel dizzy doing that.” She was there when I would call her to tell her which activity on the ice would get me dizzy and how we could do a different exercise that would still benefit me. The dedication and support I had from her pushed me every day to trust her and every activity she gave me, whether it be at home or with her, I did at 100% because her passion to get me better drove me. Playing Division 1 and professional hockey I have been fortunate enough to meet incredible doctors and physical therapists. I have never been treated better or worked with someone so committed to getting me better than Kimi. I can’t thank her enough and Athletico (and Dr. Reams for her referral) for putting me in such good hands. I would not be in the place I am now both mentally or physically without Kimi Smith. Thank you for everything.
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