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University Hospitals has developed a system-wide program for enhanding care of concussions in Northeast Ohio involving specialists from the Neurological Institute and Sports Medicine program working together with primary care physicians.
“We want to provide physicians and patients with the gold standard of care and management,” Susannah Briskin, MD, Co-Director of the UH Concussion Management Program, a pediatric sports medicine physician with UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
“Much of the outreach for hospitals for concussion care has occurred through athletic trainers providing care to high school sports teams,” said Christopher Bailey, PhD, Director of the UH Concussion Management Program and Assistant Professor of Neurology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “Our Sports Medicine program has built excellent relationships with many schools, and will continue to grow in the area. With our current initiative, we want to cover non-athletic injuries and adults with concussions. We want to improve access for adult care,” said Dr. Bailey.
According to him, standards of care for concussion are continually advancing. International written guidelines change every couple of years and it becomes difficult for even specialists as him to remain current on new knowledge. The Concussion Management Program, with UH’s new Primary Care Institute, has developed an educational training program for NE Ohio primary care physicians who receive a certification from UH on the management of concussions.
“Knowledge and change are coming fast in this field, so it is essential for primary care physicians to know what the current standards of care are because many of them may provide initial management and evaluation of concussions,” said Dr. Bailey. “Patients may funnel to a primary care physician from a local emergency department or urgent care, athletic trainers, or a direct call from a patient.”
Drs. Bailey and Briskin, Alan Hoffer, MD, neurosurgeon and Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and Christopher Tangen, DO, family medicine physician, offered in May medical education to 28 primary care physicians who practice throughout Northeast Ohio. The sessions included symptom evaluation, recovery steps, and recognizing signs for further referral to specialists, among other things.
Additionally in June, 36 physical therapists representing every UH medical center, completed the nation’s first ImPACT™ testing physical therapist course. UH has the first group of PTs to receive this certification.
Todd Zeiger, MD, Vice President, UH Primary Care Institute, said, “Primary care physicians not involved in sports medicine typically have not received training in concussion care. There also have been many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions, but if you weren’t based in sports medicine, you might not have been exposed to that knowledge. We felt it imperative for our non-sports physicians to be educated in the diagnosis and treatment protocol for concussions.”
According to Dr. Briskin, handling concussions could involve multiple disciplines, including neurology, psychology, psychiatry, physical therapy, and other specialties, depending on the nature of the case. “UH Case Medical Center and UH Rainbow have become aligned with many regional hospitals that have excellent physicians and rehabilitation programs that are available to patients within our system and close to their homes, providing patients with more options for recovery care,” she said.
“In addition, with the planning of a Level I trauma center at UH Case Medical Center next year, we expect to see more head injured patients entering the UH system and we want to be prepared with a uniform, high level of care throughout the UH system,” she said.
As part of this new initiative, UH has established the phone number 216-983-PLAY (7529) and 216-983-HEAD (4323) for further information and referrals. UH is a certified ImPACT™ concussion testing provider offering testing for athletes, schools and other sports organizations.
Whatever it’s being called — “docuseries” or “reality TV” — Esquire Network’s new series “Friday Night Tykes” is showing the good, the bad, and the ugly of youth football as practiced by the Texas Youth Football Association. In a recent episode, a coach points to the earhole in the helmet of one of his charges and says, “Hit everybody right here. They’re going to lose players, one at a time.”
Those players are eight and nine-years-old, and many of their parents see the coach’s directive as a way to develop toughness and discipline in their children. Chris Hummel, an Ithaca College faculty member, concussion researcher, and certified athletic trainer, sees it differently.
“That kind of coaching is dangerous,” Hummel said. “Concussion education has dominated the sports news for the last three or four years. How can this be the direction given to a developing eight or nine year old?”
Collisions in football are inevitable, but Hummel believes changes in state laws, rules, practice and coaching techniques, and helmet technology can significantly increase player safety, in Texas and everywhere else.
“The Heads Up method of tackling helps,” said Hummel, referring to USA Football’s recommended program of safe tackling techniques. “But tackling should be significantly reduced or even eliminated for those under 12. Limiting the number of collisions per practice or game has far reaching consequences. Typically, a player concussed in youth football takes longer to recover than a player concussed in the NFL. We’re only beginning to understand the possible long term effects of concussions in youth athletes.”
On-field measures work best, Hummel added, when backed by community-wide concussion education—something not evident in “Friday Night Tykes.”
“Teaching parents, athletes, and coaches how to recognize concussions is vital. So are measures making sure athletic trainers are on the sidelines and doctors in the community are current with concussion management. Keeping youth football players safe really does take a village.”
Caught in the crossfire between the NFL and ESPN over the network’s decision to pull out of a partnership with FRONTLINE in the production of an upcoming segment on concussions, Deputy Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath sent out the following statement yesterday:
“Over the last several days, you may have been following the story of ESPN’s decision to end its editorial partnership with us — after 15 great months of working together.
“We also want to share our latest plans for the upcoming film, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. We’ve decided that instead of breaking the film into two installments, it will air in its entirety from 9-11 pm on October 8.
“So, please mark your calenders and join us for this most exciting fall premiere of FRONTLINE’s 30th season.
“In the meantime, if you are curious about the trailer for League of Denial, which has gotten so much attention lately, you can watch it by clicking below.
“As always, thanks for your continued support.”