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Bay Area High Schools Piloting Dignity Health Concussion Network With Planned Expansion Into Other California Regions
As local students return to school and start fall sports, Dignity Health’s Barrow Neurological Institute and the Dignity Health Foundation are expanding the Dignity Health Concussion Network, “a first of its kind student athlete-focused approach to concussion education and prevention.” The program first debuted in California in January with support from the San Francisco 49ers, the California Interscholastic Federation, and ImPACT, the maker of a widely-used computerized concussion management tool.
More than 1,400 student athletes from five pilot schools – George Washington High School in San Francisco, Overfelt High School in San Jose, Berkeley High School, Carlmont High School in Belmont, and Milpitas High School – will be participating in four defined modules from the Dignity Health Concussion Network. These modules include comprehensive concussion education, an assessment, and pre-and-post ImPACT concussion testing.
“Sometimes student athletes return to play too soon after a head injury,” said Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers. “We are proud to help bring this important program to our area so that young athletes, their families and their coaches are better educated on the importance of managing such injuries with the appropriate level of care. Through proper preventative measures and injury treatment our youth can enjoy healthy careers in sports for as long as they desire.”
More than 20 other Bay Area high schools will also begin to utilize the Barrow Brainbook, the web and app-based educational component of the Dignity Health Concussion Network. Barrow Brainbook was created by neurologists at the Dignity Health Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, a renowned neurological establishment that performs more brain surgeries annually than anywhere in the United States. The interactive tool, which is designed to feel like a social media site, takes high school athletes through a series of engaging educational activities and videos about concussions. The program will continue to expand to 200,000 Bay Area students by mid-2017.
“This program is necessary to help correct major misunderstandings that most of the population has about concussions,” said Dr. Jávier Cardenas, director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center in Phoenix. “For example, many people believe that a head injury is only a concussion if there is a loss of consciousness, but 90 percent of concussions do not present with that symptom at all. This program empowers athletic directors and coaches to take an injured player out of the game and gives athletes the tools to speak up when something doesn’t feel quite right.”
In addition to the Barrow Brainbook education module, the full program piloted by the five Bay Area high schools will incorporate a formal exam, which students will need to pass before beginning a sport, as well as ImPACT cognitive testing. The first round of ImPACT testing occurs in advance of the sports season to understand an athlete’s baseline cognitive abilities. Should that athlete suffer from head trauma, athletic trainers, directors, and coaches certified by the Dignity Health Concussion Network will repeat the test and compare it to the baseline scores to better understand the severity of the injury. Should they have any immediate questions, these trainers will also have access to world-renowned neurologists via a telemedicine tool.
The Barrow Brainbook was first introduced in Arizona in 2011, making it the first mandatory education module for all high school athletes in the country.
ImPACT Applications has announced ImPACT Pediatric, its “newest innovation in the field of concussion management. The first and only FDA-approved concussion-specific tool designed for individuals ages 5-11, ImPACT Pediatric provides health care professionals with objective measures of neurocognitive functioning for evaluation and management of concussion in younger children.
“ImPACT Pediatric is an iPad-based computerized test that is individually administered, engaging for children, and easy to use in a clinical setting. It addresses a gap that has existed in the medical device community for years—a lack of normed and validated computerized neurocognitive assessment tools for efficiently and effectively measuring neurocognitive function in this age group. Created by ImPACT Applications, the developer of the FDA-approved ImPACT® computerized neurocognitive concussion assessment and management tool, ImPACT Pediatric offers pediatric patients the same advantages seen by more than 10 million ImPACT test takers.
Michael Wahlster, chief executive officer of ImPACT Applications noted that “ImPACT Pediatric is a huge step forward for the industry and specifically for pediatric patients who are at-risk of concussion-related injuries. Unlike older age groups who are often baseline tested before injury, concussion management for young children is mostly reactive. ImPACT Pediatric allows for proactive baseline testing for well-child patients and insight into cognitive changes if an injury occurs. It produces easy to use, secure, and manageable test results with age-referenced normative comparisons.”
Canadian Soccer Organizations Team Up With Health Care Provider on Concussion Awareness and Soccer Safety
The Ontario Soccer Association, Toronto Soccer Association and Toronto Football Club have each teamed up with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s Concussion Centre in collaborations focused on increasing the safety of youth soccer players.
“These collaborations are a commitment to ensuring a safer game for kids to play,” says Dr. Nick Reed, co-director and clinician scientist in Holland Bloorview’s concussion centre and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “Youth athletes, both at professional and amateur levels, need to be informed about concussion prevention, identification, and recovery strategies. We’re thrilled to work together on this important initiative with three leading soccer organizations for kids at all levels of sport.” Video link
It is estimated that one in five sport-related injuries are concussions. About 200,000 concussions are reported each year in Canada but the true number is likely much higher, as concussions are largely underreported.
In a one-year collaboration, Holland Bloorview’s concussion centre will work with the Toronto Football Club (TFC)’s academy soccer players, to provide a comprehensive baseline testing and follow-up care program that includes the assessment of neurocognitive function, as well as balance, strength and agility. Concussion education and training is another critical part.
Three-year collaborations with the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA) and Toronto Soccer Association (TSA) are also underway, focusing on concussion education, strategies, and awareness campaigns to align players, parents, coaches and trainers on the most up-to-date evidence and resources for concussion prevention, identification and management.
The OSA is the governing body for 21 soccer districts, 13 Associate Members and 26 Non-Club Academies across the province. With over 475,000 annual participants, the OSA is one of largest sporting organizations in Canada.