CONCUSSION CARE 101 GUIDE:
How To Set Up A Concussion Clinic
NorthShore University HealthSystem
Concussion Clinic Tools and Team Members
What’s the first step in setting up my concussion clinic?
Concussions are a common injury that requires a complex treatment.
Because so many disciplines are involved in treating concussions (athletic trainers, clinicians, physical therapists, nurses, occupational therapists, etc.), the very first step is to determine who will be the concussion care team leader.
It is important to designate one person who can conduct initial assessments, coordinate referrals, and make return to activity decisions.
Ideally, this person would be a Credentialed ImPACT Consultant (CIC) – a qualified healthcare provider who has been specially trained in the management of a concussion. This point person should be licensed to make return to play / return to activity decisions in the area in which you practice and should have good knowledge of a concussion.
Which disciplines should be included in my concussion care team?
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that needs a multi-disciplinary team working together to improve patients’ recovery processes. When you’re creating your concussion clinic, it’s important to keep in mind the scopes of practice each professional covers to make sure there are no gaps in your team:
- Point Person: a qualified healthcare provider who serves as the point person on the concussion care team and makes return to activity decisions;
- Athletic Trainer: recognizes concussion symptoms and signs at the point of injury and serves as the liaison between family members, school, and clinic;
- Physical Therapist: works in vestibular therapy, active rehabilitation, or target specific deficits identified by the point person;
- Physiotherapists (outside the US): involved in concussion assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. Their scope of practice depends on country laws.
- Occupational Therapist / Optometrist: helps with activities of daily living and vision therapy;
- School Nurse: helps students return to school safely and avoid activities they shouldn’t engage in; this person also pays attention to the appropriate academic workload;
- Speech Language Pathologists, School Psychologists, other multi-disciplinary team members: may participate in return to school, anxiety/mood issues while recovering from a concussion, or other areas as needed.
What tools do I need in my clinic?
Concussion care and recovery require a multifaceted approach. Here are some of the tools you need to help your concussion clinic succeed:
- Removal from Activity Screening Tools: Healthcare providers should use objective tools as well as a comprehensive exam to screen for concussions. ImPACT Quick Test is a screening tool that helps with removal from activity decisions and can be administered on an iPad immediately following a suspected injury at the competition site, workplace, or point of care.
- Computerized Neurocognitive Testing: Neurocognitive testing is recommended by the 2017 Concussion in Sport Group Consensus Statement. It offers an objective measure to track neurocognitive functioning. ImPACT and ImPACT Pediatric are cognitive tests that help healthcare providers assess concussions and make important care decisions.
- Vestibular/Ocular Screening: Approximately 50% of post-concussion patients report vestibular symptoms. The Vestibular Ocular Motor Screening Exam (VOMS) is a free, simple assessment that may help dictate treatment plans. The VOMS is included with ImPACT Quick Test.
- Balance Screening: Balance can be an important measure of post-concussion status, especially shortly after an injury. The Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) is a straightforward test that requires only a stopwatch, a balance pad, and an assistant to act as a spotter. The BESS is included with ImPACT Quick Test.
What are guidelines to keep in mind when setting up my concussion clinic?
- There is no “one-size-fits-all concussion clinic model”: every program is different. Set up your practice in such a way that works for your patients and clinical workflow.
- Concussion care is constantly developing. Make sure you and your medical professionals follow best practices and keep up on current research.
- There is no “one stop shop” for concussion care. Look for tools to evaluate and measure brain function so you can have an objective picture of each mild traumatic brain injury you examine.
- Most importantly, your concussion clinic should be a reflection of your passion. Strive to improve patient outcomes and reduce long term negative effects of a concussion.
- A reliable treatment plan for a concussion requires interdisciplinary care. Partner with primary care, physical therapy, and sports medicine professionals to make sure you offer well-rounded concussion care.
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Determining Clinic Setup and Flow
What types of patients my concussion clinic will see?
The types of patients you see will likely be determined by your geographic location. If you’re the only concussion clinic in your area, you can set yourself up to be the go-to provider for concussion care.
If there are other clinics in your area, you may consider specializing or offering a service your competitors don’t. You play a role within your community - find out what that role is!
When deciding who your ideal patients are, it’s important to keep in mind the kinds of head injury you want to specialize in.
Do you want to be known for sports concussion rehabilitation?
Are you specializing in treatment of post-concussion syndrome?
Do you want to be a jack of all trades?
Do you want to do diagnosis and treatment mainly for pediatric patients?
After you define your niche, you should create a strong mission statement to communicate your standard of care.
A good mission statement might be:
“Our clinic strives to provide best in class concussion care for patients of all walks of life. Our mission is to improve patient outcomes following concussion by using best practices and current evidence.”
By sticking to your unique mission, your clinic will be able to leverage the best available resources and research to help head trauma patients get better.
How do I develop my concussion clinic workflow?
After putting your concussion care team together and agreeing on your business goals, decide what parts of the concussion care process you want to handle. Steps include:
- Concussion education: Provide education to students, parents, school staff, and general public on concussion basics, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment. These resources can help get you started.
- Baseline testing: Promote baseline testing as a critical piece of concussion care. Baseline testing ensures that, in the event of an injury, you have a clinical report to determine the patient’s “normal” neurocognitive functioning.
- Point of injury evaluation: Become a go-to decision maker when it comes to removal from activity decisions. Get a tool to help you with screening athletes and patients.
- Acute injury management: Be the centerpiece of concussion treatment. Have the tools, knowledge, and skills to help you diagnose concussions. Know the first steps after a concussion is diagnosed.
- Complicated management: Have a referral network and tools to manage individualized, complicated concussions. 20% of concussion patients take longer than 3 weeks to recover from their mild traumatic brain injury.
- Return to activity clearance: Be familiar with the laws in your area and regulations surrounding return to full activity.
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Set Your Clinic Up For Success
How do I train my concussion care team?
Communication with all the members of your concussion care team is crucial to the success of your patients’ recovery. To get your team on the same page, get training in the following areas of practice:
- Point Person: Credentialed ImPACT Consultant Program
- Athletic Trainers: ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainer Program
- Physical Therapists: ImPACT Trained Physical Therapist Program
- Physiotherapists (outside the US) – ImPACT Trained Physiotherapist Program
- Occupational Therapists: ImPACT Trained Occupational Therapist Program
- Billing Staff: Courses on billing and coding for concussion care and concussion rehabilitation to ensure you get the best reimbursement rates for the work you do.
- School Nurse/School Staff: New User Bundle, which includes information on baseline testing, creating concussion policies, and general information on concussion and ImPACT Applications’ concussion assessment tools.
- SLPs, kinesiologists, other team members: Find courses that fit within each discipline’s scope of practice in the ImPACT Applications’ Continuing Education course library.
Concussions are best treated by a multi-disciplinary team working within their scopes of practice to improve outcomes and reduce patients’ recovery time. With the right training, team, and tools, you’ll be in the perfect position to provide best in class concussion care in your community.
How do I bill for concussion care services?
Depending on your clinic setting and location, billing for concussion care services may vary. Here are a few resources to help you with billing and coding for concussion care:
- Billing Guide
- Billing and Coding for Concussion Care Course
- Billing and Coding for Concussion Rehabilitation Course
How do I promote my concussion clinic?
As a new clinic, you’ll need to get your products and services out into the community and build your practice as a go-to provider for concussion care. To supercharge your marketing, here are a few tips and resources:
- Organize community baseline testing: This is a fantastic way to show goodwill in your community, as well as educate students, parents, and school staff on concussions. You’ll also build relationships and in case of a suspected concussion, you’re the first person they think of.
- Build a referral network: Connect with providers in your area who offer services your clinic doesn’t, and make them aware of the services you provide. Improving patient outcomes is at the core of great concussion care - recognize your strengths and weaknesses and fill in the gaps as needed.
- Create resources that educate your community: ImPACT Applications has a variety of resources available for you to use. Existing ImPACT Applications customers can also contact us to customize ImPACT Applications carefully selected community outreach materials with your clinic’s logo.
- Inform parents and students: Share this Concussion 101 guide with parents and students.
- Invest in a digital marketing strategy: Understand who your target audience is. Make sure your clinic is active on social media and easily found on search engines, like Google and Bing. You can hire a full service online marketing agency to help you with your marketing efforts if you don’t have the time and skills.
- Excel in customer service: Have the best human resources possible to make sure your patients are being treated fairly both online and offline.
- Get one of your physicians trained as a Credentialed ImPACT Consultant to be your point person: Besides receiving best in class concussion training, CICs receive a featured listing on ConcussionCareProviders.com, showcasing your clinic as a go-to provider for concussion care.
- Add ImPACT Trained Healthcare Providers to your team: ImPACT Trained Physical and Occupational Therapists receive a listing as rehab professionals at ConcussionCareProviders.com. ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainers have an additional listing, highlighting your team as trained in concussion care.
Concussion is a complicated injury that requires proven and effective medical practices, protocols, teams, and tools. With the right resources, you can make a lasting impact in your community and become known for providing best in class concussion care. Use this checklist to jumpstart your marketing efforts.
How can I get started with ImPACT Applications concussion assessment tools and training?
By now, you understand that concussions are a type of a traumatic brain injury caused by a head trauma which affects brain functions and can have serious negative outcomes if not treated correctly.
The previous sections gave you an overview of putting together a concussion care team, diagnosing concussions, treatment plans, return to play and return to activity protocols, as well as different ways to promote your concussion care clinic.
If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of work and effort required to put together a concussion clinic, we have a shortcut for you.
ImPACT Applications has all the tools, training, resources, and research you need not only to set up your concussion clinic, but to become a leading concussion care provider in your community. It takes less than 24 hours to get started:
Healthcare setting: Send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org (or call +1 877 646 7991, option 3) to get an account set up in 1 business day and start testing.
Educational setting: Select the package that works best for your organization and purchase online here (only for high schools, colleges, or sports leagues in the United States).
Healthcare and educational settings: Select the number of baseline and post-injury tests you’d like to purchase and fill out this online purchase form. Your account will be set up in 1 business day and you can start testing shortly after that (new customers only; existing customers: email email@example.com or call +1 877 646 7991, option 3 to get ImPACT Pediatric).
Healthcare and educational settings: Select the type of an unlimited annual license you’d like to purchase (healthcare or educational) and fill out the online purchase form. Your account will be set up in 1 business day and you can start testing shortly after that. ImPACT Quick Test can be bought online by new and existing customers.
Getting Concussion Training
Get your entire concussion care team onboard with the concussion assessment tool(s) of your choice by watching free administration courses below:
Credentialed ImPACT Consultant (CIC)
Learn the latest skills in concussion care, get favorable pricing on the tools above, and become the point person of your concussion clinic. Apply here.
Concussion Care Team Credentials
Make sure your team is trained to support your concussion clinic patients.
Athletic Trainers - become an ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainer (ITAT).
Physical Therapists - become an ImPACT Trained Physical Therapist (ITPT).
Physiotherapists (outside the US) - become an ImPACT Trained Physiotherapist (ITPT-Physio).
Occupational Therapists - become an ImPACT Trained Occupational Therapist (ITOT).