As another competitive season starts up for the new school year, prevention of sports-related concussions is again in the spotlight.
The Nebraska Sports Concussion Network, a collaboration between Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, Nebraska Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, PC and 18 other medical facilities across Nebraska, has trained more than 300 physicians and clinical staff, and 140 high schools and colleges across the state.
The program helps coaches and physicians make safer, more objective decisions for sports-related concussions.
In Nebraska, The Concussion Awareness Act went into effect July 1, 2012. This new law affects any schools having athletes 19 years old or younger (excluding colleges/universities), as well as any sports organization, including youth leagues, club sports or any organization sponsoring a sporting activity where there is a cost to participants or where such costs are sponsored.
Thanks to the Nebraska Sports Concussion Network, many physicians have been trained and given access to use the ImPACT™ Test, also used by the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, the University of Nebraska Athletic Teams and many high school athletic programs to care for concussed athletes.
Daniel J. Tomes, MD, medical director for the Nebraska Sports Concussion Network and board certified in neurosurgery, conducts the training and educates primary care, pediatric, internal medicine and trauma emergency physicians who treat concussed athletes.
Dr. Tomes feels strongly that neurocognitive concussion testing is extremely valuable. “In the short-term, memory loss, headaches, and even depression may arise from the accumulative effects of repeated concussions. Research has indicated multiple concussions can hasten the development of neuro-degenerative disease, namely dementia," says Tomes.
The ImPACT Test is an online, computer-based program. Athletes take a pre-season baseline test. Then, if an athlete sustains a concussion, they take the test again.
When they can perform the post-injury test as well as the baseline and have no further worrisome changes on physical examination, only then are they allowed back into practices following a step-wise progression for Return to Play. However, until a physician or an appropriate licensed healthcare provider has provided written clearance, as well as written clearance obtained from a parent, the athlete cannot return to play.
The physicians will be able to see and use the ImPACT program during their training. The training session with Dr. Tomes is scheduled for Tuesday, August 20, 2013, from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center.