New Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush University provides proper diagnosis for athletes

Concussions, like any injury, need proper assessment and time to heal. Some may brush off an injury to the head, but an injury to the brain may be severe with possible long-term consequences. Athletes or individuals who suffer a bump or blow to the head now can see a physician for assessment within 24 to 48 hours at the new Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush University Medical Center. The clinic has one of the largest multidisciplinary teams in the Midwest with clinicians specially trained to assess and manage concussions in athletes.

"Athletes who return to play while still experiencing symptoms are at highest risk for serious long-term problems, therefore proper diagnosis and management are critical," said Dr. Jeffrey Mjaanes, director of the Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush and assistant professor of pediatrics and orthopedic surgery. "Our overall goal is to get our athletes back to their sport in the timeliest but safest manner."

The Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush provides child, teen and adult athletes with evaluation, treatment and medical clearance before returning to activity, for sports-related concussion. The focus of the clinic is to provide proper diagnosis of concussion, including medical evaluation and neuropsychological testing.

Patients are evaluated by a team of specialists including sports medicine physicians, neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-psychologists, as well as physical, occupational and behavioral therapists who are experienced in concussion. The clinic uses a team-centered, multi-disciplinary approach to caring for patients, from mild to the most complex cases. The clinic offers the latest in concussion diagnosis and management tools, including ImPACT, neurocognitive testing and balance testing.

"Neurocognitive testing is a key component in evaluating an athlete's thinking abilities, such as memory, concentration, processing speed and reaction time. Computerized neurocognitive assessment tools, such as ImPACT, allow for a standardized evaluation that can be performed in our doctor's office and results provided immediately. These tests are used to aid in return-to-play decisions of athletes with concussion and are most helpful when the athlete has a baseline test with which to compare results," said Mjaanes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 3.8 million concussions a year in the United States. According to health professionals, all concussions (brain injuries) are serious and must be assessed to prevent further injury or even death.

Younger athletes appear to be more vulnerable to the effects of head injuries than older athletes. Most concussions occur in contact sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse and basketball, although any trauma to the head can result in concussion. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, from mild headache to loss of consciousness and amnesia. Serious risks of concussion include fatal Second Impact Syndrome, prolonged symptoms that last weeks or months (Post-Concussive Syndrome) and long-term diseases or disorders preceding the injury such as depression, cognitive delay and Parkinson's-like symptoms.

"We hope to increase awareness of the significance of concussions among athletes, parents, coaches and trainers, as well as advance the understanding of concussion diagnosis and management among health care professionals such as emergency room physicians, family physicians and pediatricians," said Mjaanes.

Mjaanes is a primary care sports medicine physician - fellowship-trained, board certified in pediatrics and Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) Certified in Sports Medicine. He is team physician for Simeon Career Academy High School, Trinity International University and one of the team physicians for DePaul University. Mjaanes is also one of the team physicians for US Soccer national teams.

The Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush offers appointments within 24 to 48 hours. To schedule an appointment with a physician, call the clinic directly at (312) 432-2500.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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