State-Wide Care for Concussion Injuries

Concussions can happen in an instant. A sudden blow, bump or jolt to the head can cause the brain to bounce or twist, often creating chemical or structural changes.

Research shows 80% of people who experience a concussion fully recover within 3 weeks. The other 20% may experience persistent neurocognitive symptoms, including memory issues, slower processing speed and difficulty concentrating. It also can lead to physical symptoms such as increased fatigue, headaches, irritability, vision problems and dizziness. Franciscan Health Sports Medicine realized many physicians were not prepared to treat those remaining 20%.

“We know early diagnosis and comprehensive concussion treatment can lead to better outcomes, so we’ve made this a priority,” said Craig Voll, PhD, manager of sports medicine at Franciscan Health Sports Medicine.

In addition to the 20% of patients who experience protracted symptoms, Voll and his team noticed a gap in concussion care for the schools they serve in smaller rural areas. Oftentimes, these student-athletes did not undergo concussion baseline testing and didn’t have access to concussion specialists.

In response to these gaps, Franciscan Health Sports Medicine has secured resources and volunteers to host concussion education workshops with parent-teacher associations and youth sports leagues. The workshops focused on the signs and symptoms of concussions, as well as the importance of reporting concussions.

Franciscan Health Sports Medicine also utilizes ImPACT Applications. These FDA-cleared and scientifically proven concussion assessment tools have been shown to greatly improve concussion care. These tools help physicians determine clinical trajectories, develop treatment strategies and assess improvement.

“In addition to the workshops and our own use of ImPACT Applications, the entire Franciscan Health Sports Medicine team has worked hard to build a network of experts who go out into our rural communities to increase the level of care for our student-athletes,” said Voll.

Those experts include Credentialed ImPACT Consultants (CICs), ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainers (ITATs), ImPACT Trained Occupational Therapists (ITOTs), and ImPACT Trained Physical Therapists (ITPTs). Voll also states the team has been working with nurse practitioners and primary care physicians to educate them about new treatment standards and signs of when a patient is not progressing.

“Our overall goal is to help student-athletes fully recover from these head injuries so they can get back to their previous life and be productive students, athletes and kids. We’re seeing great improvement and know this is making a difference,” said Voll.