Director, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology
Director, Upstate Concussion Center
SUNY Upstate Medical University
How did you become interested in the field of Psychology?
Like most practitioners, the main attraction for me was the opportunity to help others.
Briefly describe your area of specialty:
My specialty for the past 22 years has been brain injury and illness, with a focus on mild traumatic brain injury (concussion). Conditions affecting the brain can alter our thinking, emotions, and behavior, so psychologists are well positioned to help persons recovering from brain disorders. I’m particularly interested in the academic consequences of concussion, and how to better support students recovering from mild traumatic brain injury.
Based on your specialty, what is one piece of advice for our readers?
Concussion has gotten a lot of attention in the media, which has raised awareness but also generated some unnecessary anxiety. Concussion is a brain injury, so we do need to take it seriously. However, the vast majority of people will recover from concussion in a week or two with no long-term consequences. The most important thing is to make sure 1) we recognize a concussion when it occurs and 2) we don’t return to activities with increased risk of head injury until recovered and cleared by a healthcare professional with expertise in concussion.
Can you provide a recommendation for how our readers can begin to implement your piece of advice?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers lots of good information and handouts related to concussion and proper concussion management. Just go to cdc.gov and search concussion. Check out this link for a list of concussion signs & symptoms: https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html.
Tell us something fun about you: If you weren’t a psychologist, what would you be?
I was an English and Theater major in college with concentrations in dramatic literature and lighting design, and I spent several years after college working professionally as a technical director, production stage manager, and lighting director for theater and dance. I have very much enjoyed—and been surprised by—my career in Psychology, but hope to get more involved in the arts again in the future (i.e., retirement).
If any of our readers would like to contact Dr. Rieger, he can be reached at the Upstate Concussion Center at 315-464-8986.