ATLANTA (June 2011)–In 2007, a CDC report found that U.S. emergency departments treated approximately 135,000 concussions, suffered by 5- to 18-year-olds each year. And children younger than age 14 receive more than 400,000 traumatic brain injuries a year, resulting in more than 2,500 deaths.
In an effort to provide quick, streamlined access to evidence-based care for brain injuries, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently launched a new Concussion Program. This multi-discipline approach aligns patients with members from Emergency, Immediate Care, Neurology, Neuropsychology, Neurosurgery, Physiatry, and Sports Medicine. Highlights of the program include standardized tools to assess patients, as well as a nurse coordinator to help organize – and communicate – each child’s care across the delivery system.
Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Andrew Reisner, M.D., will lead the hospital’s new venture as Medical Director of the Concussion Program.
“It has been shown that children who suffer one concussion have a three-to-four times higher risk of suffering a second concussion,” said Dr. Reisner. “Any individual who shows signs or symptoms of a concussion should be held from school or sports until evaluated and cleared by a medical professional.”
The Concussion Program guidelines, built with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and CDC are integrated into the Children’s electronic health record system, which allows a tremendous amount of data collection for research. Additionally, physicians can provide an individualized plan of care to patients and families, with defined criteria and steps to help patients return to school – and play. Children’s has also developed a concussion assessment tool for initial and follow-up evaluations. This resource will be available online, along with patient family teaching sheets. This tool is consistent with recommendations from the CDC, American Academy of Neurology (AAN), AAP and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Concussions are caused by a blow or jolt to the head. A concussion may occur regardless of whether or not a child experienced a loss of consciousness or was “knocked out.” Generally, concussions are not dangerous; however, repeated concussions either over an extended, or short, period of time can result in permanent injury to the brain if not properly managed.
“I am very proud of this team effort,” said Dr. Reisner. “During the last five years, we have introduced evidence-based guidelines for the management of head injuries at Children’s. The result is not only less confusing instructions for the doctors and nurses, but also undoubtedly better care for the patients.”
Dr. Reisner is board-certified in neurological surgery and pediatric neurosurgery. He completed his residency at Emory University, Department of Neurosurgery and his fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at University of California, San Francisco. He is currently the medical director of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Neurotrauma Services. In addition to traumatic brain injury, Dr. Reisner’s areas of interest include Gamma Knife radiosurgery, brain tumors, and congenital anomalies of the brain and spine.
For more information about the Children’s Concussion Program, visit www.choa.org/concussion or call 404-785-1111 to speak with the concussion program nurse.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education. Managing more than half a million patient visits annually at three hospitals and 17 neighborhood locations, Children’s is one of the largest clinical care providers for children in the country. Children’s offers access to more than 30 pediatric specialties and is ranked among the top children’s hospitals by Parents magazine and U.S.News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s has made an impact in the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world. Visit www.choa.org for more information.