Back on the Ice


Frank Boie grew up in Montreal, Canada, where he became hooked on hockey at a very young age. In kindergarten, Frank suffered a concussion when a classmate collided with him at recess. He remembers being in the hospital for hours, sick to his stomach.

Frank received his second concussion at age 13 when he was elbowed in the head by a player as he dove to reach a puck during hockey practice. “I blacked out and woke up on the boards.”

Frank’s love for hockey never stopped. He played through high school at Rivers School in Weston where he was recruited to play Division 1 hockey at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. Frank is now a junior at Holy Cross studying psychology and economics.

After what Frank describes as a very physical game against Providence College in November 2018, he felt woozy and was not sleeping well. However, he has no memory of getting hit during the game. One day after practice he felt very dizzy and talked with his coach and trainer. He knew it was time to focus on his health.

The Holy Cross team doctor treated Frank for a few months while he was removed from play under concussion protocol. During this time, he also saw a neurologist who wanted to put him on medication to alleviate the dizziness. “I did not want to take any medication; I wanted a different opinion,” says Frank.

The team doctor referred Frank to the Cantu Concussion Center at Emerson Hospital in February 2019. There, he saw Robert Cantu, MD, medical director, and Katelynn Cataldo, nurse practitioner. Based on Frank’s history, it was clear to the Emerson team that he had sustained a concussion. The team decided an active rehabilitation approach with an exercise based program would be best for Frank.

On the Path to Recovery

Frank’s goal was to get back on the ice and play hockey for Holy Cross. “We see many top-ranked athletes whose primary goal is to get back to their game and not only play, but play to win,” remarks Dr. Cantu.

With this goal in mind, the Concussion Center referred Frank to Emerson’s Clough Sports Medicine & Performance program to improve the vestibular impairments that were causing his dizziness.

Working with staff physical therapist Nick Schumacher, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, once a week at the Sports Performance Center, Frank’s goal started to become reality.

“Right away, Nick was really good at targeting what I needed to improve,” says Frank. “We did a series of exercises and progressions to strengthen my vestibular system, like 180-degree jump turns, down-rollups, and gaze-stabilization exercises.”

“The Sports Medicine & Performance program has the space and equipment to meet the needs of our elite athletes. We use our turf to perform agility drills, Olympic weight-lifting equipment provides sufficient loads, and Airdyne bikes tax the cardiovascular system,” Nick explains.

“I started to notice an improvement within a few weeks,” says Frank. “Nick gradually included new exercises and recorded data about my progress each session. The data showed I was getting better every month, which was very encouraging and helped keep me going.”

“Frank set himself up for success from the get-go; he has an incredible drive,” says Nick.

Back on the Ice

In August 2019, after working with Nick for several months, Dr. Cantu cleared Frank to play hockey based on his post-concussion symptoms clearing, his neurological exam being normal, and Frank passing the Concussion Center’s Competitive Return to Play Assessment.

“Nick was a great fit for me,” says Frank. “He understands athletes. We shared stories, and he understood that while I was 95 percent recovered from my concussions, the remaining 5 percent is a mental barrier that I needed to get through.”

“Frank has come a long way, and we are excited to have him back on the ice,” says Dan Hickey, athletic trainer, Holy Cross men’s ice hockey team. “When it comes to return to play from a concussion, the Cantu Center stands out as tops in New England. Along with Emerson’s Sports Medicine & Performance program, it was exactly what Frank needed to get ready to play.”

Today, Frank is excited to be playing defense, proudly wearing his #3 jersey as a Holy Cross Crusader. “I feel a lot stronger and more confident when I play. Everyone I worked with at Emerson got me back on the ice — I could not be here without them.

About Emerson's Sports Medicine and Concussion Programs

Emerson's Sports Medicine and Performance Program and Dr. Cantu have treated athletes young and old at skill levels ranging from students to professionals. Visit Emerson's Clough Sports Medicine and Performance page and Dr. Cantu's physician profile page to learn more and to request an appointment.