Concussions are a topic of great concern these days, and for good reason. If left untreated, or treated incorrectly, these head injuries can cause difficulties that will extend far beyond the playing fields.
Not every head injury leads to a concussion, however, and sometimes it is difficult to know the difference between a minor bump on the head and one that is potentially far more serious. Carilion Clinic's Sports Medicine department takes proactive steps to educate athletes and parents so together we can decrease the risk of, and properly treat, concussions.
Personalized Concussion Treatment
Carilion's concussion management program begins with baseline testing for student athletes. If you have a student entering school sports, check with your county’s school officials – some may require this easy, painless test for participation in school sports, while others may list it as voluntary. Either way, this is an important first step, as it allows us to have a record of each athlete’s normal cognitive function on file in the event one is ever needed for comparison following an injury.
If an athlete experiences a head injury during a game or practice, and a concussion is suspected, we will administer a screening test right there on the sideline. This can be a brief but anxious time that can feel like an eternity to any parent. Rest assured that by taking this immediate action, we can make an informed decision together as to the extent of the injury, and whether or not your child should get back in the game.
If it turns out that your athlete has suffered a concussion, our physicians will give specific instructions as to how to monitor it and begin treatment. Physical and mental rest is often the first priority. Within the next day or so, you will need a follow up appointment, most likely with your primary care physician. If that happens to be a Saturday, however – as is often the case after Friday night football games – we will be happy to handle that follow up in the Sports Injury Clinic.
The team approach for concussion management includes neuropsychologists. Our neuropsychologists have advanced training in the evaluation and interpretation of the neurocognitive testing used to assist in determining the treatment course and decision for return to “play”.
Returning to Activities
There is more to life than sports. First and foremost, your student-athlete needs to feel physically and mentally well enough to handle their studies and everyday activities. We are committed to seeing every patient all the way through treatment. To that end, we will work together with your child’s school to design a re-engagement schedule that fits his or her recovery needs. Whether it means shorter school days to start, or a lighter workload, Carilion will assist in an appropriately paced return to both scholastic and athletic activities.