University of Virginia has long been a hub of innovative research for advanced diagnostic tools and treatments for concussion and traumatic brain injury, and recently UVA researchers have been part of a national discussion — as highlighted in the book “League of Denial” — on the impact of head injuries in athletes who play contact sports. With a new dedicated Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Clinic opening at UVA Health System this month, patients will now have easier access to these leading head injury specialists and the advanced care they provide.
According to neurologist Michael Jaffee, MD, the integration of services into one clinic facilitates collaboration among the many specialists required to effectively treat those with traumatic brain injuries. The clinic will have on-site expertise from adult and pediatric neurology, neuropsychology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapists, sleep medicine and psychiatry, as well as direct access to specialists in neurosurgery, pain management, sports medicine and other specialties as needed.
“Concussion and brain injury patients have multiple symptom constellations, including physical, emotional, psychological and sleep disturbances,” says Jaffee. “We look at the big picture — all of the patient’s symptoms at once — and then collaborate to determine the optimal care plan. This level of multidisciplinary collaboration at one clinic is unique, and it will allow us to develop a care management plan that incorporates multiple modalities to maximize enhanced recovery in patients.”
“Those patients with more complex conditions will benefit greatly from the ability to see multiple specialists in one visit,” adds neuropsychologist Donna Broshek, PhD. “We are effectively leveraging the expertise at UVA, bringing specialists together in order to provide a higher level of care.”
In addition, because of UVA’s participation in ongoing research for concussion diagnosis and treatment technology, patients have access to the most advanced care options available today. “We remain current on state-of-the-art therapies, which allows us to offer the latest discoveries to a variety of patient populations,” says Jaffee.
Easy Access and Individualized Care
There are multiple providers at UVA Health System with expertise in concussion and brain injury, so there have been multiple intake points in the past. With the opening of this new clinic, the referral process will become more streamlined.
If a referring physician suspects a patient has a concussion or traumatic brain injury and would like a consult, he or she can now call a central phone number – 434.98BRAIN (434.982.7246) – to access the clinic directly Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (After hours and weekends, voice mail is available). A triage nurse will evaluate the patient’s condition based on a thorough interview with the physician and patient. Then, the patient will be referred to the most appropriate clinic or specialist based on a number of factors, including symptoms present and the time since the injury occurred.
“We will not take a one-size-fits-all approach to treating patients,” explains Broshek. “Instead, we will offer care tailored to the individual. The type of care needed or which specialist or specialists the patient needs to see will be determined prior to the first appointment.” This approach will allow the patient to be seen by the most appropriate providers in one visit, saving them time and energy. The goal is to maximize recovery and help individuals safely return to activities, school and work.
Another perk for patients: convenience. The new clinic is located at Fontaine Research Park, which has free, on-site parking and is easily accessible.
Several members of this treatment team are already integrated into community education and outreach efforts, working closely with the athletic departments in a variety of local school systems. This work will continue in an effort to promote concussion prevention measures and the importance of early and accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Find out more about the Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Clinic.