THF Partners with Telluride Medical Center in Concussion Program

Think Head First brings a comprehensive and cutting edge concussion protocol to the Telluride Medical Center.

This month the Telluride Medical Center announced a partnership with Think Head First to bring a comprehensive concussion management program to the Telluride community. The Think Head First program manages mild head injury and provides education and consultation expertise for sport organizations in the area of concussion management.

The Telluride Medical Center’s Think Head First initiative will utilize ImPACT Neuropsychological testing software as an additional tool for assessing and determining when it is appropriate to return to sport safely after a head injury. Laura Cattell, PA-C, who has been with the Telluride Medical Center since 2000 will head up the program and serve as the resident concussion expert. “The ImPACT software is cutting edge. It allows us to get perform testing to measure baseline cognitive function to be used to evaluate a patient if they’re suspected of a concussion,” said Cattell.

Establishing a baseline test yields a benchmark for cognitive functions such as verbal and visual memory, processing speed, reaction time and ability to focus and concentrate. Concussive injury affects these functions of the brain, which with normal clinical exam and imaging are not readily apparent. Thus, the baseline ImPACT results add the clinical ability to evaluate function and as such, should provide an added tool in managing the recovery process.

Concussion management, however, involves more than just comparing cognitive functions. Through the program, Cattell offers coach and parent education, athlete baseline testing and education, post-injury on-site coach support and remote testing, medical and clinical evaluation and follow up, and a multidisciplinary individual return-
to-sport plan.

Melinda Roalstad, who developed Think Head First in Park City, Utah, is working with Cattell to launch the program locally. “It’s important to realize the baseline testing is a fantastic tool but only one part of program – recovery from a head injury is multidisciplinary and includes managing nutrition, rest and sometimes even occupational, speech and physical therapies,” said Roalstad.

Cattell aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of concussions, a common sport injury through education in the hopes of preventing the avoidable incidents; reduce the likelihood of repetitive injury with the associated consequences of further injury to the
brain and possible prolonged symptoms; and most importantly, to prevent second impact syndrome, a phenomenon where a person sustains a second injury to the brain before the first one is resolved. This syndrome can have devastating effects causing permanent
damage to the brain or even death.

Now when any concussion case that comes through the doors of the Medical Center, Cattell will oversee the coordination of treatment, follow the patient through the process and evaluate them to make recommendations on therapy etc. Cattell is working specifically with students and sports managers to create a culture of concussion awareness and protocol. “Through working with teams and schools, we
hope to reach more athletes to prevent the avoidable incidents that increase the risk of repetitive injury,” said Cattell.

The Think Head First program was created in 2007 in Park City, Utah, with the vision of increasing awareness of concussion in sport through education and proper management of injury. For more information about concussions, visit the Think Head First website at www.thinkheadfirst.com

About Melinda Roalstad
Roalstad is a Nationally Certified Physician’s Assistant and along with Wain Allen, MD,
the founder of Think Head First in Park City, Utah. She is the former Medical Director
for US Ski & Snowboard Association and implemented a concussion management
program utilizing ImPACT for clinically assessing elite and Olympic level athletes from
2003-2007. Additionally, and probably most importantly, she established FIS guidelines
for concussion management. Melinda is clinically certified in ImPACT assessments.

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