Urgent Care Clinics and Emergency Department Personnel

The number of visits to emergency departments and urgent care clinics relative to possible concussion have risen significantly over recent years.

Often the emergency department or clinic is the first stop for a child with a concussion; parents want assurance that their child will be okay.
Very often seeing a patient with the possibility of a concussion diagnosis is the one and only time emergency department or urgent care staff will see a particular patient. It is critically important to provide accurate information about concussion, follow up, treatment, and management. In the trauma environment concussion is a relatively mild diagnosis; however, concussions that are not properly evaluated and treated can cause a great deal of difficulty for a student athlete trying to get back in the game, or any child whose everyday life is compromised by prolonged symptoms of concussion.

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • Concussion symptoms do not always present until hours or days after the injury
  • It is suspected that a large number of concussions are not diagnosed
  • The risk of second impact syndrome is real and the consequences are death or lifelong disability
  • Cognitive consequences of a concussion have serious effects on a student’s academic performance
  • Proper concussion management requires monitoring over time by a medical professional
  • The New Jersey Concussion Law provides strict mandates for return to play when a concussion is diagnosed
  • It is not possible to determine the amount of time it will take for any concussion to completely resolve

Today there are medical professionals who have acquired an expertise in diagnosing and managing concussion utilizing the most recent recommendations from research, and the consensus among international concussion experts who convened at the most recent international conference on Concussion in Sport in Zurich in 2012. There are also resources, materials, and trainings that are available for clinicians to utilize in order to become better informed about concussion management.

Below are a few things you may find helpful in your practice:

  • Sports Concussion Office Assessment Tool (SCOAT): This evaluative instrument contains information that assists clinicians monitoring concussion over time. When used in an emergency department or urgent care practice the information on the form gives the treating clinician valuable information from very early after the event that may have caused the concussion.
  • ACE Post-Concussion Home/School Instructions: This instruction sheet for clinicians to provide to parents provides information on concussion signs and symptoms, keys to recovery, and information on returning to daily activities, school and play.
  • A Parent’s Guide to Choosing a SportsConcussion Specialist: Parents are often confused about where to go for treatment for their child’s concussion. This article provides basic information about concussion management and the professionals who may be involved in their child’s care.
  • Step for Parents to Monitor a Concussion: Recording certain facts and early symptoms of a concussion provides clinicians with day-by-day information about symptom manifestation. This form also provides space to record the results of a visit to an emergency department or urgent care practice.