On the third Friday of September, National Concussion Awareness Day is recognized by the Brain Injury Association of America. Falls, vehicle injuries, and other collisions can affect brain performance, but sports accidents are often the cause of these traumatic injuries, with an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occurring in the U.S. every year; however, many medical providers acknowledge the number is considerably higher due to significant under-reporting or unknown injuries. Furthermore, the rate of concussions is on the rise, partly because of increased public awareness and guidelines for physicians but also due to an upsurge in youth sports.
"When in doubt, sit them out."
While concussions vary in severity, they require a prompt and comprehensive exam from a qualified medical provider as soon as possible to rule out any additional damage or potentially life-threatening injuries. Those suffering from a concussion may experience headaches, nausea, balance issues, vision problems, light and noise sensitivity, and confusion. More severe signs include memory difficulties, changes in speech patterns, or loss of consciousness. Either way, athletes should never return to play with any concussion symptoms.
Telemedicine is one such way that athletes receive immediate and needed concussion care. Specifically, teleneurologists are specialists trained to cover all neurological issues, both urgent and non-urgent, and it has been found that using teleneurology to treat concussions aligns 100% with on-site assessments.
Telemedicine is available quickly no matter the location
While a professional sports team will have a physician or sideline-based certified trainers on staff to tend to injuries, most youth sports do not have someone equipped to perform tests such as the modified balance error scoring system, vestibular/ocular motor screening, or post-concussion symptom scale. With a telemedicine partner, immediate care is just a few clicks away. Having a virtual provider can become even more valuable for traveling teams, who will most likely not have a local physician on hand or may not know where to go if an injury occurs.
Telemedicine reduces unnecessary trips to the ER
Concussions are reported to account for 80% of traumatic brain injury-related visits to emergency departments. But sometimes, it is not always clear who should go to the emergency room, who is safe to see a doctor the next day, and who should go home and rest instead. By leveraging the expertise of a teleneurologist via video, providers can examine reflexes, vision, balance, and more while identifying the severity of a concussion. If the trauma is determined not to be critical, unneeded trips to the ER can be avoided.
Telemedicine improves continuity of care
While most concussion signs present themselves quickly after an injury occurs, some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. Furthermore, concussion symptoms can last months (or in some rare cases…years), sometimes resulting in mood changes and unusual emotions. When a provider and patient work together to follow a recommended rehabilitation plan, it results in better outcomes. In addition, some patients may have trouble driving due to their injury, but a teleneurologist can conduct follow-up visits remotely and provide ongoing care for those with limited mobility.
Improving the future of sports medicine
As long as people play sports, there are (unfortunately) going to be injuries. You put your heart into the game, and we put our heart into delivering comprehensive healthcare with better outcomes. If you would like to learn more about how teleneurology providers can offer virtual concussion and other brain-related care that is just as impactful as a face-to-face visit, contact VirtualMed today to get started.
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