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Concussion Care

The Cape Regional Concussion Care Center provides comprehensive evaluation and therapy services to treat concussions caused by accidents, falls and sports injuries. Our seven nationally certified brain injury specialists provide high level diagnostics and care to those affected by concussion. In addition, they educate the public, school districts and athletic programs about the importance of concussion awareness and early detection.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, jolt to the head or hit to the body that causes the brain to move in the skull.

Signs of a concussion may not show up right away, but it's a serious head injury that can lead to lasting brain damage if not treated properly. If you suspect a concussion, it’s crucial to be evaluated by a concussion expert within 24 to 48 hours of the injury. Go to the nearest Emergency Department, Urgent Care Center, see a pediatrician or primary care physician, or call us at 609.463.CAPE to schedule a concussion evaluation.

If you have a concussion, the center will develop a customized rehabilitation program to help you recover the cognitive and physical skills lost. We use advanced technology to create a baseline for each patient that will allow us to diagnose brain injuries and precisely measure progress during recovery.

Concussion Care for Young Athletes

Sports are a great way for kids and teens to stay healthy. With increased time on the fields and courts, the prevention and treatment of concussions in young athletes is vital. It’s important for student athletes, parents and coaches to understand the seriousness of concussions, how to prevent and identify them, and manage the medical aspects properly to prevent a lifetime of concussion-related health issues.

If a concussion is suspected based on symptoms, or if a student athlete has had a severe blow to the head or body, he or she should be removed from play immediately and seen by a healthcare provider within 24 hours for an assessment. Teens who continue to play while having concussion symptoms or who return to play too soon after having a concussion—while the brain is still healing—have a greater chance of getting another concussion, which can impact that teen for a lifetime, or even be fatal.

The Cape Regional Concussion Care Center provides education programs to school systems, athletic leagues, youth sports, parents and the public. In addition, we provide comprehensive services to assess and treat concussions so student athletes can heal and get back to the sports and activities they enjoy.

Tips for concussion prevention

  • When appropriate for the sport or activity, ensure that young athletes wear helmets to lower the chances of concussion.
  • Make sure the league or coach understands the seriousness of concussions and creates a culture of safety during practices and official games and matches.
  • Understand the team or league protocols for dealing with concussion, including prevention, baseline testing, recovery time and return to the sport.
  • Establish baseline cognitive levels prior to concussion through a program such as our ImPACT® Testing.

When a concussion occurs

  • Follow recommendations from your provider to heal quickly and prevent further damage, including the “Return to Play” protocol that will assess recovery and readiness.
  • Ensure good hydration, nutrition and rest during and after recovery.
  • Avoid any technology, (computers, mobile screens, etc.), bright or fluorescent lights, or other stimuli that can tax the brain and prevent recovery.
  • Maintain open communication with the student’s teachers, coaches and athletic trainers to ensure that recovery protocol is followed at school and after resuming play.

For more information on concussion in youth sports, visit the CDC HEADS UP to Youth Sports.

Concussion Care for Adults

Kids and athletes are not the only ones who can get a concussion. Adults can become concussed through falls, motor vehicle injuries, accidents, fights, and recreational or professional sports.

If a concussion is suspected, it’s important to get a diagnosis within 24 to 48 hours to prevent further damage and begin the process of recovery. Seek an evaluation at an Emergency Department, urgent care center or primary care physician. A medical professional will do a complete examination, get a complete medical history and list of any medications to determine if there are additional risk factors. The patient may get a CT or MRI scan, as well as a neurological test to assess motor skills, balance and coordination, and hearing and speech.

The Cape Regional concussion team provides both assessment and care services for concussion in adults. Our team will provide specific guidelines for recovery and healing so that patients can return to work and home responsibilities as quickly as possible. Most adults who sustain a mild concussion are back to normal within a week or two. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the better the chances for recovery, because rest after concussion is so important for healing.

Concussion Care for Seniors

Concussion is a common occurrence in the elderly, especially as the large population of older adults in the United States ages while remaining physically active. Many can become concussed by falls, recreational sports or motor vehicle accidents.

The geriatric population offers unique challenges in assessing the severity of concussion. Many have chronic diseases, take medications that can impact or mimic concussion symptoms, or have cognitive issues that are hard to differentiate from concussion. Trauma gets worse with age—as bones are more at risk for damage as we fall, so are brains.

The Cape Regional Concussion Care Center understands the unique nature of concussion in older adults and provides both assessment and care services to these patients. In addition, our team works collaboratively with our patients’ personal physicians and other healthcare specialists to ensure good communication about medications, other medical conditions and concussion prevention and recovery.

If a patient has gotten a concussion from a fall, he or she may be referred to our Balance Center to prevent future occurrences caused by dizziness, vertigo or vestibular losses.

Concussion Signs and Symptoms

If you have a concussion, you may lose consciousness for a short time or just not feel right after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Concussion symptoms include the following:

  • Have trouble recalling events before or after a hit or fall.
  • Appear dazed or stunned.
  • Forget an instruction; be confused about an assignment or position; or be unsure of the game, score or opponent.
  • Move clumsily.
  • Answer questions slowly.
  • Lose consciousness (even briefly).
  • Show mood, behavior or personality changes.
  • Have a headache or feel pressure in the head.
  • Have nausea or vomiting.
  • Have balance problems, dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Be bothered by light or noise.
  • Feel sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy.
  • Feel confused or have concentration or memory problems.
  • Have sleep disturbances or fatigue.

If any of these symptoms are present, consult a healthcare provider within 24 to 48 hours of the injury.

Services

When a patient comes to Cape Regional Concussion Care Center for an evaluation, we begin with a complete health history and physical examination. Any history of concussion and a complete list of medications will be required. Our physical examination may include speech and gait analysis, full musculoskeletal and neurological examination, and tests that might include MRI or CT scans.

Our physical and occupational therapists develop programs tailored to each patient’s unique conditions and abilities, focusing on:

  • Restoring strength and endurance.
  • Stopping dizziness.
  • Improving balance.
  • Reducing headaches.
  • Educating patients and caregivers on concussion care.
  • Working with patients and their caregivers to eliminate stimulation at home.
  • Creating a plan for resuming normal activities.

In addition, we provide a variety of technology-based evaluation and treatment tools, including the following:

ImPACT® Testing

  • ImPACT is a simple, noninvasive computer assessment tool to help licensed healthcare providers evaluate and manage a suspected concussion. Baseline testing is recommended for athletes in contact sports to compare to post-injury tests that will inform treatment and return to play decisions.

Dynavision D2

  • This light-training reaction device evaluates reaction times, establishes a baseline and serves as a treatment tool. The customizable computer program allows our team to customize for athletes and non-athletes. The D2 can be used in motor and cognitive training.

Biodex Balance System

  • This evaluation and treatment tool is used for balance and vestibular problems.

Meet Our Team

The Rehabilitation Team at Cape Regional Health System is committed to providing the highest quality and comprehensive care to those suffering with concussion symptoms to maximize recovery.

Our seven certified concussion specialists have expertise in providing both physical and occupational rehabilitation and the latest care using a variety of modalities with patients to diagnose and treat concussion and related symptoms.

Medical Directors Jillian Edwards, DO, and Tooba Fayyaz, DO, both board-certified neurologists from Cape Regional Physicians Associates, have special expertise in diagnosing and treating concussions as well as other conditions affecting the brain.

Together, the team works with each patient, providing individualized services to each to maximize the recovery from concussion. In addition, we work closely with our patient’s referring physicians to ensure coordinated care.

Certified Concussion Specialists

A.J. Weiss, MS OTR/L, Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS)

  • Rehabilitation Manager.
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.
  • Specializes in concussion, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
  • 15-plus years of experience.

Gregory Murphy, MS OT

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
  • Specializes in concussion, shoulder, elbow and hand
  • 15+ years of experience

Noel Gaspar, PT

  • Certified brain injury specialist (CBIS).
  • Staff physical therapist.
  • Bachelor of science in physical therapy.
  • Specializes in concussion, hip/knee, neck/back, vestibular.
  • 10-plus years of experience.

Mark Driscoll, Physical Therapist MS., DPT, CSC, IASTM level I, and Certified Brain Injury specialist (CBIS)

  • Physical therapist.
  • Doctor of physical therapy.
  • Certified strength and conditioning, certified brain injury specialist, instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization Level I.
  • 20-plus years of experience.

Julia Aristizabal, PT, DPT, Certified brain injury specialist (CBIS)

  • Physical therapist.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy.
  • Specializes in concussion, IASTM, cupping, dry needling, kinesio taping, orthopaedics.
  • 5-plus years of experience.

To schedule a concussion evaluation or to learn more, call 609.463.CAPE.

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