NSLHD News January 31 2022

NSLHD LAUNCHES NEW CONCUSSION CLINIC 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

(Left to right): Neuropsychologist Vince Oxenham, Clinical Nurse Specialist Vicki Evans (Roach) AM, Paediatric Neurologist Dr Gary Browne, Neurologist Dr Miriam Priglinger-Coorey

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. “Sitting out one game is much better than missing the

whole season. “We are not the ‘fun police’ – we want people to play sport, but respect the rules and sportsmanship of the game, use helmets and mouth guards, strengthen your neck muscles, warm up before the game, practice drills, report the injury, and look out for your mates too. “Don’t ignore or hide it – getting a second concussion on top of one that has not been resolved will make things worse, which is why we established this clinic: to ensure people get the advice they need and cut through all the conflicting information they may receive. “It’s also important to remember concussions can happen anywhere – not just in sport.” The clinic will treat school- aged children under 16 as part of a paediatric clinic who obtain their concussion through any method, while an under 25’s clinic will operate for those who have a sports-related concussion. The patient must have been seen in one of the NSLHD’s emergency departments and diagnosed with concussion. If symptoms persevere for greater than 10 days from initial injury, a general practitioner will be able to refer the patient to the concussion clinic.



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