Loyola Medicine introduces multidisciplinary program to diagnose and treat concussions

Loyola Medicine has launched a multidisciplinary Concussion Program to diagnose and treat concussions in athletes and other patients.

The Illinois High School Association and state law require that every sports-related head injury be evaluated by a qualified medical professional before the athlete returns to practice or competition.

Loyola’s integrated concussion team includes specialists in sports medicine, primary care, neuropsychology, neurology and neurosurgery, who work with physical therapists and athletic trainers. Patients who suffer prolonged concussions often will be scheduled to meet with two or more healthcare providers in the same visit.

“A team approach is the best way to diagnose and treat concussions in adults, adolescents and child athletes,” said Nathaniel Jones, MD, a sports medicine specialist and member of the Concussion Program team. “We have assembled a nationally recognized team of specialists who can respond quickly to protect patients’ safety.”

Patients suspected of having a concussion will be evaluated for memory, concentration, thinking ability, pupil size, vision, strength, balance and reflexes. Imaging tests, such as CT and MRI scans, and electroencephalograms (EEGs) also may be administered.
The Concussion Program guides patients on appropriate return to sport or activity. It also helps coordinate and develop with schools a customized plan for students to return to their studies.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that alters the way the brain functions. Symptoms usually are temporary. But if a concussion is not diagnosed and properly treated, there’s a risk of death or severe health problems, including depression, second-impact syndrome, brain swelling and post-concussive syndrome (a continuation of symptoms for months). Loyola offers several treatment protocols for long-term concussion management, including a specialized exercise protocol in which symptoms are monitored while the patient is under exertion or stress.

Loyola also offers a vestibular rehabilitation program, in which physical therapists tailor individualized exercise programs to reduce dizziness and improve balance and motion sensitivities.

Other treatments include limiting mental exertion and visual activity at school or work; avoiding physical activity unless cleared by a physician; getting consistent, quality sleep; staying hydrated; eating a healthy diet; avoiding sustained exposure to light, sound and motion; and taking only those medications and supplements prescribed or recommended by a physician.

Loyola University Health System