Healing the Brain, with Clinicians in Mind
Heads Up to Clinicians: Concussion Training
“For me, recovering from the concussion was harder than recovering from other injuries I’ve had. When I got a concussion playing soccer, I expected to sit out some games, but I never realized that it would actually hurt to think,” said Sarah Rainey, a high school varsity soccer player.
Sarah Rainey, a high school varsity soccer player.
While most athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some like Sarah, will have symptoms that last for days, weeks, or even months. This doesn’t just affect an athlete on the sports field, but can impact their ability to participate in school and even their daily activities.
“For nearly two-months, I needed frequent breaks to make it through the school day. I would go to the school clinic and rest when I was overcome by headaches from the lights and noise of the classroom. Before my injury, I was taking advanced classes. Immediately afterward, I couldn’t even do simple math problems in my head and couldn’t keep up with the lessons.”
Fortunately for Sarah, her doctor, Dr. Gerard Gioia at Children's National Medical Center, was up-to-date on the latest guidelines on concussion in sports and was one of the concussion experts who helped develop CDC’s new online course for health care professionals.
Titled, Heads Up to Clinicians: Addressing Concussion in Sports among Kids and Teens, CDC’s new one-hour online course for health care professionals explores what happens to the brain and why young people are at increased risk. The course was developed by CDC, in partnership with 14 medical organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Neurology, and through support from the CDC Foundation and the National Football League. It features interviews with leading concussion experts, as well as dynamic graphics and tools for clinicians to help prepare them for diagnosing and managing concussions among young athletes. Health care professionals who complete the course will receive a continuing education opportunity through the American College of Sports Medicine.
CDC’s Dr. Victor Coronado
“An athlete’s memory, concentration, headaches, how they perceive light and sound, mood swings, sleep patterns—a concussion influences many once-routine functions. One thing we can do to keep kids and sports safe is to make sure health care professionals know how to properly diagnose and manage concussions,” said Dr. Victor Coronado, Medical Officer at CDC’s Division of Injury Response. “That’s why development of this new course is so important.”
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Careful management of Sarah’s injury by Dr. Gioia, using the School version of the ACE Care Plan, helped aid her transition back to school. By taking the appropriate time to recover and putting the right plans in place, Sarah made a full recovery after 4 months and continues to be successful both in school and on the sports field.
“I make sure all my staff takes CDC’s new online course, as I have seen first-hand how a concussion can sideline an athlete from sports, school, and even their normal daily life. This injury can have a significant impact on the way an athlete learns, thinks, acts, and feels. We need to take it seriously,” adds Dr. Gioia.
To date, CDC has helped educate about 18,000 health care professionals through the Heads Up to Clinicians online course about the latest guidance on diagnosis and management of sports-related concussions. Through this effort, CDC is helping to keep young athletes, like Sarah, healthy and active in sports by educating clinicians about appropriate return to play and school progression plans following a concussion.
To learn more and to get free resources for health care professionals and the steps to help young athletes return to school and sports after a concussion, check out CDC’s Heads Up to Clinicians online course at: www.cdc.gov/Concussion.