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New center integrates care of patients with concussions

By Leslie Hill
July 2011

The Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, is a new, joint venture between the Vanderbilt Orthopaedics Institute and Vanderbilt Neurosciences Institute that will integrate and standardize the care of pediatric and adult patients with concussions at all Vanderbilt hospitals and clinics.

Athletes at every level, from grade school to professional, will be treated and given the same state-of-the-art care, using the latest technology and research findings whether they enter the Vanderbilt system through an emergency room visit, an evaluation by an athletic trainer during competition or a referral by a primary care physician.

“It’s a big effort and involves not just those providers on campus but in Williamson County and outlying clinics in Tennessee and Kentucky,” said Allen Sills, M.D., associate professor of Neurological Surgery, who will lead the Concussion Center along with Gary Solomon, Ph.D., and Andrew Gregory, M.D.

Prior to forming the Concussion Center, treatments were provider-
specific. Now, using the electronic medical record, there is a standardized symptom checklist and neurocognitive and balance assessments.

“The challenge with concussion is diagnosis because you can’t see a concussion on the outside. Most patients look normal and have normal brain scans but still may have a very significant injury. That’s where you need a provider who knows the right questions to ask, the right assessment tools to use and right strategies for managing the concussion,” Sills said.

The Concussion Center will offer ImPACT, a computerized concussion evaluation system that measures baseline reaction time, memory and attention span, which can be compared to post-injury tests to track an athlete’s recovery and assist in determining a safe time to return to play.

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