It has been the hot-button issue across a number of sports for a number of years, and now Royal North Shore Hospital is launching a first of its kind clinic for concussion.
The clinic will operate weekly for young adults and paediatric patients and will aim to educate and rehabilitate patients who have been diagnosed with concussion in one of Northern Sydney Local Health District’s emergency departments but still have ongoing symptoms 10 days on from the initial injury.
Concussion Clinical Nurse Specialist at RNSH Vicki Evans (Roach) AM said the new clinic would aim to not just improve symptoms, but also help patients understand concussion and prevent longer term complications.
“It is really important to understand the potential ramifications that could occur if a concussion is not taken seriously,” she said.
“Symptoms of a concussion should resolve within seven to ten days, but this multidisciplinary clinic will see patients who are still experiencing symptoms after 10 days.”
The multidisciplinary clinic, composed of adult and paediatric neurologists, clinical nurse specialist and a neuropsychologist, will take a holistic approach, reviewing patients’ cognitive function, psychological wellbeing and associated post-concussive symptoms.
Depending on the outcome they may recommend various lifestyle modifications and suggest appropriate referral pathways to ensure optimal recovery and an efficient return to productivity.
One of those patients that could have benefited from such an initiative, is Jack Winchester, 18, a state and national water polo player who suffered four concussions within a year, the last one in March 2021.
“Water polo is such a big part of my life, so having to take nearly a year off playing due to multiple concussions was really tough and took a big toll on my mental health,” Jack said.
“After my first concussion I didn’t take the time to recover properly. Following my second concussion, I saw a concussion physio and that’s when I learnt how important it is to listen and follow the concussion protocol otherwise it can delay your recovery.”
Vicki said feedback from concussed patients and their parents and carers before the clinic, was a lack of understanding and certainty as to when it was safe to resume regular activities like return to school and sport.
“It was important for them to understand the mood disorders that often accompany lingering concussions and which are sometimes downplayed or not well recognised when managing patients with this type of head injury,” she said.