Followup after concussion is important but a recent study found many concussed patients are not doing this vital step in their recovery. I have spent a lot of time over the past year studying concussion and its affects on all of us. The thing I discovered very quickly is we know very little about it, the long term affects, and how to mange it. What is clear is that we need to do better in our communities in expressing the importance of watching for a concussion and ensuring a proper recovery. This rings true in the results of this recent study that found a disappointingly low number of concussed patients failing to properly follow-up after their injury.
In this study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association the authors looked at 831 patients who presented the emergency department of 1 of 11 US level 1 trauma centers for a concussion. They found less than half (42%) self-reported receiving concussion educational material at discharge or seeing a physician or other health care practitioner within 3 months after injury (44%). Among the patients with 3 or more moderate to severe postconcussive symptoms, only 52% reported having seen a medical practitioner by 3 months. The authors of the study found that injury severity, patient demographics, patient admission to the hospital ward or intensive care unit, patient income, and insurance status were not associated with the probability of seeing a medical practitioner.
What constitutes proper follow-up care after a concussion? There is no real consensus in the literature, yet, as to what or how much care is necessary. Since each of us is unique and each injury is just as unique proper follow-up care should be based on both the individual and the severity of their injury. A baseline examination is extremely important if you are an athlete. An examination may help us determine an injury occurred but if we have a pre-injury baseline to compare a post-injury re-test to we have a great way to diagnose a concussion as well as measure when a patient is properly healed. There are several different baseline exams that can be performed on your or your athlete if you are concerned about a concussion, we offer one that is FDA approved.
My takeaway from this study is that patients are not getting the follow-up care after a concussion diagnosis that they should be and the reason is largely due to a failure of the patient not being made aware of the significance of the injury and the importance of following-up. I see that the significance of a concussion, especially one that did not include a loss of consciousness, is not understood by many Americans today. Health care providers need to do a better job with educating the community on the topic of concussion because when that is better understood patients will more easily undergo follow-up care. The kind of education necessary to teach the community about concussions is not possible by handing a patient or parent of an athlete a pamphlet. It has to happen in the proper context.
Along those lines we offer a class on concussion titled Concussion Roulette. It is a class in which I lay out the topic in detail. I describe what a concussion is, what the impact of a concussion can amount to, I touch on the topic of CTE, and discuss why a proper baseline exam is so important. I am willing to give this class wherever people who meet want to hear it. If you are intreseted in having me speak to your group email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.