July 2, 2015

Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Concussion Care


ABC 33/40

Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center and Joseph D. Ackerson, Ph.D., have partnered to launch of a new, multi-disciplinary program to better manage and treat sports concussions in youth student-athletes.

Since the passage of Alabama’s Sports Concussion Law in 2011, the level of knowledge and ability of coaches and parents to identify the signs and symptoms of concussions has improved.  However, according to Dr. Ackerson, “one area still lacking is enough adequate, comprehensive, concussion-management programs for student-athletes who experience concussions, some of whom require months, and occasionally years, of monitoring and follow-up care.”

Ackerson goes on to say, “While safety equipment is important, no helmet or gear can totally prevent a concussion. There also is no single test or high-tech approach to diagnose a concussion. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can show up immediately after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until hours or days after the injury. The best approach is a team approach, using well-trained and knowledgeable experts, which is why I am thrilled to be part of this important integrated system of concussion care.”

The multi-disciplinary approach to concussion care includes Champion Sports Medicine (CSM) & Encore Rehabilitation certified athletic trainers, who are often the first to recognize and identify the concussion and remove a student-athlete from play. The certified athletic trainers are on site for sports practices and games at more than forty (40) local schools that are affiliated with Andrews' Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center and St. Vincent’s Health System.

If deemed appropriate, student-athletes are provided with immediate access to (one of the four) Andrews non-surgical sports medicine physicians, who further assess the severity of the concussion. Another non-surgical sports medicine physician affiliated with Andrews and Dr. Ackerson is Dr. Michael Ellerbusch. The vast majority of concussions are minor and can be managed by certified athletic trainers and the Andrews Sports Medicine team of physicians. Athletes with more severe or protracted concussion symptoms are referred to Dr. Ackerson for further assessment and treatment.

Dr. Ackerson stresses “the layers of expertise and depth of care this model provides specifically addresses Alabama’s need for comprehensive concussion management.  We see this as the future of best practice for concussion assessment, care and management for student athletes.”