A concussion is far more serious than just a bump to the head. Sometimes, these brain injuries require intensive attention from multiple medical professionals over a longer period of time.
At Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Concussion Clinic, a multidisciplinary team of experts in neurology, neurosurgery, neuropsychology and, if needed, trauma surgery evaluate and monitor kids with concussions to get them back to health.
“Usually, we recommend patients be evaluated in our clinic when either a couple scenarios are met,” says Dr. Mitchel Williams, a pediatric neurologist. Typically, if children have significant symptoms – “any persistent symptoms past several days, either (that) are worsening or really impairing their day-to-day activities.” Also, the clinic is a good place if children have a concussion due to a serious accident, like a car accident or fall.
“Every child that comes in gets a full assessment,” says Elissa Potter, BSN, RN at CHM who has experience in the Concussion Clinic – “and then they leave that day with a full care plan.”
Kids are evaluated by Williams, as well as neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Rothermel, to determine the prognosis and if the concussion has caused any cognitive issues. Doctors write up a plan for recovery and transitioning back to school.
“(We) might send them back on a reduced work load, (or) might send them back with no school for a period of time because they’re so symptomatic,” Potter says. Perhaps students are advised to avoid computers or eat lunch in a quieter, dimmer room. A concussed student might need testing accommodations, too. Nurses touch base with the school to get teachers up to speed about the child’s possible delays and needs, Potter says.
If needed, neurosurgery and trauma surgery are consulted, too.
Throughout the recovery process, doctors are keeping a close eye on clinic patients.
“We do close follow up with the patients and families,” Williams says. Follow-ups are done via phone or in the office to ensure symptoms are properly managed, recovery is going well and that improving cognitively and physically, Williams adds, “that their quality of life is getting better.”
All of the appointments kids need while recuperating from concussions happen in the same clinic, which is an added convenience for families.
“We take pride in that we’re able to see the child fairly quickly in a specialized clinic,” he says.
To learn more about the Concussion Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, or to make an appointment with its specialists, visit childrensdmc.org/concussionclinic or call 313-745-KIDS.