Looking for a concussion urgent care specialist near you but need help figuring out where to start? Here’s why you should consider Teleconcussion.
The use of Telehealth to manage and treat concussions—Teleconcussion—is a promising approach to reducing the burden of accessing and treating concussions and quick access to qualified medical personnel.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It can occur when an intense blunt force hits the head. Moreover, it may result due to a rapid back-and-forth movement of the head.
Though considered “mild”, concussions can cause permanent brain damage and disability. Fortunately, the risk of short- and long-term health issues is significantly lower in those who receive urgent concussion care through a specialist.
Further Reading: Concussions: Definition, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery
What to Know About Sport-Related Concussions in the U.S.?
Sports-related injuries are responsible for about 3.8 million concussions each year. 1https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/brain-neurological-conditions/concussion-athletes-neurosport# Among these, nearly 1.9 million cases occur in individuals below 18 years. 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27325635/ It means that about half of all sport-related concussions (SRCs) occur in children and adolescents.
According to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, “During one season, a concussion occurs in 2 to 15% of athletes who partake in organized sports.” 3https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/53/4/213#ref-11
In addition to physical and mental health consequences, sports-related injuries cause a significant economic burden. For instance, charges for injuries associated with baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball totaled more than $8 billion in 2016. 4https://meridian.allenpress.com/jat/article/54/10/1013/420865/The-Public-Health-Consequences-of-Sport
How Can Telehealth Improve Concussion Care?
Telehealth, also called Virtual Care, e-Health, or m-Health, uses remote telecommunication and digital technologies to deliver health care. Examples include:
- Live video conferencing
- Smartphone apps
- Telemonitoring or remote patient monitoring (RPM)
- Store-and-forward technology
A brief history of Telehealth in concussion care and current status
It was in 2007 when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) started providing medical care to service members and veterans with TBI. 5https://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/07/44/7/pdf/Girard.pdf
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DBVIC) collaborates with healthcare providers to:
- Identify and treat individuals with concussion
- Compensate for the shortage of concussion specialists
- Reduce the risk of a second injury or second impact syndrome
Experts at the Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Arizona, first used the term “Teleconcussion” in a 2012 case study. 6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23101482/ They used telehealth to identify a concussed athlete who had resumed physical activity despite not being fully recovered.
In 2017, the VA healthcare system identified individualized Telehealth as a potential healthcare solution for Veterans with TBI. 7https://irl.umsl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1778&context=dissertation
Over the years, the use of Teleconcussion has expanded beyond the military. For example, in 2019, The Ware County School District initiated a virtual care program that will help over 6,000 high school students access specialists and tests, such as ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). 8https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/georgia-schools-to-use-telemedicine-for-concussion-testing-treatment
Effectiveness of Teleconcussion
A growing body of evidence suggests that Telehealth could be as effective as in-person visits for concussions. 9https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/2759
Moreover, virtual care has proven successful in helping veterans access TBI rehabilitation. According to the VA, more than half of Veterans with TBI received care through Telehealth technologies in 2021, up from 32% in the previous year. 10https://www.polytrauma.va.gov/features/Maximizing_Veterans_Access_to_Health_Care.asp
Teleconcussion has shown promising results in various areas of concussion care, including:
- Concussion identification
- Short- and long-term care
- Home care
- Concussion health education
Advantages of Teleconcussion
The first and foremost advantage of Teleconcussion is that it helps injured athletes access appropriate care without delay. 11https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311759/ As mentioned earlier, this is critical to reducing the risk of complications and improving treatment outcomes.
Furthermore, studies have shown that Telehealth not only increases access to medical care, but it also improves follow-up appointment rates. In more than 20,000 public and private secondary schools in the United States, 34% of schools had no access to athletic training services; of those with athletic trainers, 47% of schools had part-time coverage only. 12https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8077984/
With remote technologies, athletes have less frequent travel for care, and providers can engage in collaborative care irrespective of geographical location. 13https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1555415519305720
Lastly, Teleconcussion can help affected individuals and their families decide if they need an in-person assessment.
Is Teleconcussion Accurate?
You may be concerned if Teleconcussion is as accurate as in-person assessment in deciding whether a player needs to be removed from play.
Available evidence suggests that there is no considerable difference between in-person and remote assessment findings.
For instance, a 2017 study published in the American Academy of Neurology found that remote and in-person providers agreed almost every time regarding assessment findings and the decision to remove from play. 14https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28341642/
What Teleconcussion Can Do and What It Cannot
Teleconcussion can offer most medical services, especially with athletic trainer assistance, such as: 15https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8077975/
- Neurologic assessment and screening
- Computer-based neurocognitive testing
- Cervical spine physical therapy
- Neuropsychological consultation
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Nonetheless, available Teleconcussion models do not allow services such as brain and cervical imaging, complete neuropsychological assessment, and vision therapy.
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help finding a concussion urgent care specialist near you or Telehealth appointment in NY, NJ or CT.
I love that the work that @AmaalStarling and I did on #teleconcussion continues to be relevant. Gaps in care continue to be a problem – especially #concussion care for rural athletes. #Telemedicine. Great to see other docs like @theconcussiondr explore this space! https://t.co/sUoGjtx0jU
— Bert Vargas (@BertVargas) September 1, 2019
- University of Michigan Health Michigan Medicine. Concussion in Athletes. Accessed November 12, 2022.
- Bryan, Mersine A et al. “Sports- and Recreation-Related Concussions in US Youth.” Pediatrics vol. 138,1 (2016): e20154635. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-4635
- Harmon, Kimberly G et al. “American Medical Society for Sports Medicine position statement on concussion in sport.” British journal of sports medicine vol. 53,4 (2019): 213-225. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-100338
- David R. Bell, Lindsay DiStefano, Nirav K. Pandya, Timothy A McGuine; The Public Health Consequences of Sport Specialization. J Athl Train 1 October 2019; 54 (10): 1013–1020. doi: https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-521-18
- Girard P; Military and VA telemedicine systems for patients with traumatic brain injury. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 2007 vol. 44,7 (2007): 1017–1026
- Vargas, Bert B et al. “Teleconcussion: an innovative approach to screening, diagnosis, and management of mild traumatic brain injury.” Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association vol. 18,10 (2012): 803-6. doi:10.1089/tmj.2012.0118
- University of Missouri, St. Louis. Traumatic Brain Injuries: A Telehealth Alternative for Veterans (2018)
- mHealth Intelligence. Georgia Schools to Use Telemedicine for Concussion Testing, Treatment. Accessed November 12, 2022.
- American Academy of Neurology. FOR CONCUSSION, MS, OTHER NEUROLOGIC DISORDERS, TELEMEDICINE MAY BE AS EFFECTIVE AS OFFICE VISIT. Accessed November 12, 2022.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Polytrauma/TBI System of Care. Accessed November 12, 2022.
- Turkstra, Lyn S et al. “In-person versus telehealth assessment of discourse ability in adults with traumatic brain injury.” The Journal of head trauma rehabilitation vol. 27,6 (2012): 424-32. doi:10.1097/HTR.0b013e31823346fc
- Subramanyam, Venkat et al. “The Role of Telehealth in Sideline Management of Sports-Related Injuries.” HSS journal : the musculoskeletal journal of Hospital for Special Surgery vol. 17,1 (2021): 46-50. doi:10.1177/1556331620979653
- Cydne Marckmann, Diane John, Telemedicine, Quality Initiative for Concussion Management, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2020, Pages e9-e12, ISSN 1555-4155, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2019.09.001.
- Vargas, Bert B et al. “Feasibility and accuracy of teleconcussion for acute evaluation of suspected concussion.” Neurology vol. 88,16 (2017): 1580-1583. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000003841
- Toresdahl, Brett G et al. “A Systematic Review of Telehealth and Sport-Related Concussion: Baseline Testing, Diagnosis, and Management.” HSS journal : the musculoskeletal journal of Hospital for Special Surgery vol. 17,1 (2021): 18-24. doi:10.1177/1556331620975856