Virtual care news and views

Professional Learning Series January 10, 2019

What primary care providers need to know about concussion

Who is best equipped to advise about return to play, work, and life after a concussion? Who should take the lead on concussion diagnosis and management?

Managing concussion is challenging. The incidence of concussions in Ontario children and youth doubled between 2003 and 2010. Concussions are a common sports injury outcome from which not all patients can recover.

“This is a topic that is often difficult to diagnose and difficult to manage, and a lot of people don’t know that it can lead to difficult consequences down the line,” says concussion expert and founder of ThinkFirst Canada, Dr. Charles H. Tator, in his presentation Update on Management of the Concussion Spectrum of Disorders for Family Physicians.

The concussion spectrum of disorders includes the consequences of acute concussions, ranging from post-concussion syndrome ultimately to brain degeneration, which can occur as a result of repetitive concussions, according to Dr. Tator. “The psychological consequences are quite profound and need to be emphasized.”

The Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport was released in 2017, and in March 2018, Ontario passed the concussion safety bill ‘Rowan’s Law’, designed to protect young athletes and educate coaches about the dangers of head injuries. Rowan’s Law honours Rowan Stronger, a 17-year-old who died after suffering several concussions in one week playing rugby. The law provides guidance on when to remove athletes from higher risk sports if a concussion is suspected, ensuring medial clearance before return to play, and strategies for returning to play.

The law requires assessment under certain conditions. Dr. Tator says that because of the new legislation, it’s going to be even more important for everyone to be up to speed about concussion management.

The concussion in sport guideline puts the onus on physicians and nurse practitioners to make the diagnosis, therefore every family doctor and nurse practitioner must be concussion savvy, says Dr. Tator.

In his presentation, he reviews the details of the guidelines including the return to play, work or school guidelines, and the major consequences and prevention of concussions. Get the details by watching the archived webcast.

About the author: Kat Kostic is a writer for Connected, and a marketing and communications specialist at OTN.