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Bringing Specialized Care to Concussions

March 10, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Since its launch 5 years ago, the Center for Concussion Management at The University of Kansas Health System has turned heads on the athletic fields and in the medical community.

The center's innovative approach features a core team of 9 physicians representing 6 medical specialties: neurology, neurosurgery, pediatrics, sports medicine, trauma and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) also is devoted to the center, and a clinical nurse coordinator directs patient care through the various physicians. The core team also relies on other caregivers in The University of Kansas Health System to provide supporting treatment in areas such as neuropsychology and speech therapy.

Collectively, they work in a virtual team, treating approximately 1,000 newly concussed patients a year in 6 clinics around the metro.

The center's model is different from most hospitals' concussion programs, which typically are driven by a single specialty, such as neurology or pediatrics.

"Our multidisciplinary approach is what makes us unique," said sports neurologist Michael Rippee, MD, one of the physicians on the core team. "We have lots of expertise at the table."

The tight-knit collaboration within the core team, combined with supporting caregivers, is an important reason why new concussion patients are cleared to return to normal activities and athletic competition at 18.8 days from the date of referral, on average, compared with the national average of 21 days.

"These patients have quicker access to the specialized care they need throughout our health system," explained Jill Kouts, RN, the center's clinical nurse coordinator.

Members of the concussion center not only treat patients, but they devote significant time educating the community about concussion symptoms and care.

The community outreach has connected with approximately 100,000 people over the past 4 years. Audiences include local school nurses and coaches – thanks to contracts with 14 schools – as well as caregivers at other area hospitals and even Royals fans at Kauffman Stadium.

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